If you have a senior family member or an adult family member with a disability, it will come as no surprise that there is a house shortage for that population. Wait lists can be up to two years long for some housing centers. For Marshfield, that crisis will soon be less extensive.
WC Partners, located in the shopping center beside the old Orschleyns, is a case management agency for individuals with developmental disabilities.
“We have all of Webster County and we serve about 240 individuals, aged from three to end of life,” shared Katrina Detherow, executive director of WC Partners.
“WC Partners identified there was a huge lack of housing for people on a very fixed income,” explained Detherow. “Our individuals only typically receive SSI, some receive social security, but it’s a very limited income. As they start wanting to move out…be more independent, it’s very limited on what housing is available.”
Approximately one year ago, in January 2021, Detherow started looking for ways to find a solution to the problem on how to get more housing in the area. “I started doing a lot of research and came across the Missouri Housing Development,” reflected Katrina. “One of the things you need to understand about WC Partners is that we are quasi government, we are the Senate 340 board. We cannot technically own housing or monitor supports that go into those boards.”
To get around that glitch, the WC Partners created a whole separate 201c3 group called WC CapeAbilities chaired by Joyce Fenner.
“…they ran with it. They know the need. All of the individuals that serve on that board are families members of somebody with a disability,” shared Detherow. “Once we got the board together, they ran with ‘we need housing’ and worked hard to find a developer and we did-RCH Development.”
The road to building a housing development for adults with developmental disabilities has been a long one filled with hours of research and grant writing but the light at the end of the tunnel has finally arrived.
“Through the year we worked on the grant with him (Chad Hartle)…He talked to us about how to write a grant for MHD funding…We did a lot of grant writing,” reflected Detherow. “We submitted our grant in October. The second week of December we got word that we were approved. They only approved 33 applicants across the state. 115 applied.” The grant amount: 3.5 million.
“We have the property. In fact, WC Partners actually owns it and will be selling it to WC CapeAbilities,” explained Detherow. The property is located over behind the Mercy Clinic on OO in the open field, the back lot will be the housing. “It’s a 40 unit apartment complex, all street level….units will come furnished with a refrigerator, stove/oven, microwave, dishwasher and washer and dryer.”
The bonus of this new complex is that during their research the group identified another portion of the population in housing crisis: seniors.
“The other individuals that we found in crisis for housing, and often pair well with our individuals are seniors. We wanted to make sure we had a couple of different populations that could live there,” explained Detherow. Working with Chris Parker at the senior center the organization made sure to include seniors in the grant application. “When we wrote our grant we wrote it for 55 and over seniors and individuals with developmental disabilities.
The ground breaking ceremony should take place this summer so that the housing can be open by 2024.
“We had the right contacts,” shared Joyce.
“A lot of the good support,” added Detherow. “From our mayor and city council, we also had Karla Eslinger-she was very supportive and wrote letters for us. So did Hannah Kelly and Wayne Crawford.”
The development team will be led by Chad Hartle from RCH Development. Hartle has extensive experience in developing this type of housing. “It is rare to have the community, civic leaders, service organizations and the private sector come together like this to fill a need in the community,” expressed Hartle. “I am blessed to be a part of it.”
In addition to the housing, the facility will also have a Life Enhancement coordinator who will focus on making sure people are having good quality of life. They will help residents find resources and hold activities in the community center that is also part of the building plan.
The development will be called Jordan’s Place after Joyce’s Fenners son.
“My son, Jordan, developed a traumatic brain injury when he was hit by a driver,” reflected Fenner. “Here I was, ‘what do I do, how do I help him’….he went from a vital, do all, be all neat kid. He’d been to every continent by the time he was 30. He came home and lived with us in Fordland. He’d gone back to work in Antartica and had a seizure on the bus, they told him he couldn’t work anymore. He said he didn’t want to be a ‘layabout’…Jordan went outside and he took his life.”
“I got into this originally to help Jordan and then Jacob came into the mix (a little boy with autism the family had adopted) and I want to see this (through) because nobody should lose hope. Nobody.”
“Jordans place is all about hope,” shared an emotional Fenner.
“And everyone has the opportunity to live the life they want and as independently as they want,” added Detherow.
As for Detherow, she is here for the people, “The people we help, the people we see success in everyday. Whether it be a tiny little step forward or ten leaps forward-that’s what I’m here for.”
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