Addressing Lack of Housing for Individuals who Experience Disability

Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative Thrilled to be Championed by Project Partners in Recent Oregon Live Op-Ed Piece

A recent op-ed published on Oregon Live, calls for social justice solutions to the growing problem of lack of community-based housing choices for people who experience disability. The co-authors of the column, Angela Hult of the Wayne D. Kuni and Joan E. Kuni Foundation and Joe Wykowski of Community Vision, highlight the ongoing crisis with some stark facts. According to Family Caregiver Alliance, approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults 18 years or older with a disability or illness. Of those caregivers, 34 percent are 65 years of age or older. As parents age without options for their loved ones, individuals with disabilities face uncertainty about where they will live when their family can no longer care for them. As a nation made up of communities and families, we have done little to address the real needs of those who experience disabilities in the more than fifty years since President Kennedy called for a reduction of the number of persons confined to residential institutions.

One Step Toward a Community-Based Solution

Looking at the magnitude of this problem, the need to focus on incremental change at the level of personal relationships, the level of community, becomes clear. Collaboration between individuals and organizations is an important first step toward reducing systems dependency and building real, inclusive and diverse communities. That’s why we were absolutely thrilled to have our first cohousing-inspired development–Our Home – Cathedral Park–called out in the column:

Our Home – Cathedral Park, in Portland, is an example of the innovation and collaboration we need. The co-housing inspired community will have home ownership opportunities for individuals and families of diverse abilities, ages and incomes. Co-housing fosters intentional connections through shared indoor and outdoor spaces, the sharing of items like tools and garden equipment and collaboratively planning and managing activities, including child and elder care and carpooling. The St. Johns project includes 22 universally designed condominiums, which means they are accessible to people of any ability, with both subsidized and market-rate units. Up to 25 percent of the units are intended for families and individuals who experience an intellectual or developmental disability. The location will provide access to jobs, education and health care. The project benefits from strong collaboration among nonprofit, government and for-profit organizations, including Community Vision, Metro, Proud Ground, Habitat for Humanity, and Urban Development Partners.

Moving Forward, Building Strong Inclusive Communities Together

Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative, along with our first built cohousing inspired community, Our Home – Cathedral Park, is deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with individuals and other local and national organizations. Together, we are beginning the work of addressing the lack of secure, consistent housing choices for individuals who experience disability by creating inclusive, non-disability specific, diverse communities. By starting small and building on our successes, we will work to address the issue of isolation by fostering strong bonds of community.

Thank you to our partners at Community Vision, the Kuni Foundation, Metro, Proud Ground, Habitat for Humanity, and Urban Development + Partners for seeing the need on both the individual and larger scale and stepping forward to collaborate toward building real community connections to address this ongoing crisis. is actively seeking partners and community members. Please join us in building the future of inclusivity.

Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative / Our Home – Cathedral Park Receives $1 million!

Thank you , Kuni Foundation!! Your generous funding allows us to move forward with the dream of our first inclusive and diverse community, Our Home – Cathedral Park. We couldn’t be more grateful for your remarkable support and belief in our mission!

Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation Funds Groundbreaking Inclusive Housing Model

Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative Receives $1 million to support inclusive housing for adults with intellectual disabilities at Our Home – Cathedral Park, a co-housing community

Alicia DeLashmutt, founder of Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative and her daughter Neva, who inspired the co-housing model

Portland, OR – A unique community model, the first of its kind in the nation and inspired by the mother and advocate of a teenager with intellectual and physical disabilities, received catalytic funding from the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation. Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative, founded by Alicia DeLashmutt, received $1 million from the Kuni Foundation.

Our Home – Cathedral Park will be an inclusive, co-housing inspired community with a variety of home ownership opportunities for individuals and families of diverse abilities, ages and income levels. The community includes 22 universally designed homes including one, two and three-bedroom condo units. Several units are subsidized for individuals who financially qualify, with priority given to individuals who experience disability. Reflecting the natural proportion of people that experience disability in the general population, twenty to twenty-five percent of the units at OHCP are intended to be owned by families and individuals that experience IDD. Located near the base of the iconic St. John’s Bridge, the proximity to public transportation and other amenities will provide access to jobs, education and health care.

“The devastating effects of isolation, not only for our populations at risk but for us all, has entered our conversations,” said Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative’s Founding Neighbor Alicia DeLashmutt. “One community at a time we are connecting people of all abilities and attempting to reduce systems dependency by reinvigorating the natural supports inherent within a community. Disability is often left out of discussions regarding equity, and through inclusive housing we strive to create the opportunity for reciprocal relationships where people care about each other rather than being paid to care for each other. Thanks to the generous support of the Kuni Foundation, we are able to move our first community from a need and a dream to a reality.”

Strong collaboration among a diverse range of nonprofit, government and for-profit organizations is a key driver to the project’s success. The co-housing community is being developed in partnership with Community Vision, one of Oregon’s largest providers of individualized supports for adults experiencing disabilities and Urban Development + Partners, a Portland development firm with extensive experience in multi-family construction and co-housing development. Community Vision secured the land for the project. Additional project support is being provided in part by Metro, Oregon Community Foundation, Proud Ground and Habitat for Humanity.

“This is an exciting, innovative project that advances inclusion and connection while complementing existing affordable housing efforts that are underway, said Mark Edlen, CEO of Gerding Edlen. “I believe this is a replicable model that can be duplicated in Oregon and in communities throughout the country.”

There is an unprecedented and growing demand for affordable and accessible housing throughout Oregon, and individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities are increasingly marginalized in the quest to secure housing. As neighborhoods shift and change, marginalized people are heavily impacted and there is a need for intentional and innovative housing and community building options. These range from house sharing between generations and families, to homeowners installing accessory dwelling units. The Age-Friendly Portland and Multnomah County Initiative has identified housing as a top priority – particularly inclusive, intergenerational, universally designed, and mixed income housing. Our Home – Cathedral Park is a model that incorporates all of these attributes.

“As Chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, I believe this project addresses multiple issues that we are trying to solve: the need for safe, affordable, stable housing and meeting the unique needs of the intellectually and developmentally disabled population,” said Oregon State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, who represents District 46. “I’m thrilled to support this unique, community-driven project.”

The community is scheduled for completion in spring 2021 and nine units have already been reserved. Future home owners meet at least monthly as a group, forming a foundation of connection and community before the ground for the project has broken. At the same time, Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative is fielding calls from individuals and organizations from throughout the country interested in replicating the model.

A Legacy of Advocacy

As co-founder of the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation Joan Kuni was a pioneer in advocating for her sons and for other individuals with an intellectual disability. At a time when parents of disabled children were encouraged to institutionalize them, Joan quietly blazed a trail of inclusion and lifelong enrichment and empowerment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. More than five million Americans have some form of intellectual disability, and of particular concern to Joan was how to ensure that individuals with an intellectual disability could age in place within a vibrant, supportive and stable community.

“Joan Kuni’s determination and advocacy on behalf of her sons continues to have a profound, positive ripple effect throughout a community that is all too often marginalized,” said Greg Goodwin, Chair of The Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation. “We are excited to help support Our House – Cathedral Park at this early stage and believe it’s an important proof of concept for future sustainable, inclusive communities.”

About the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation:

Based in Vancouver, Washington, the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation funds cancer research and supports programs and initiatives that enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn more at www.kunifoundation.org or via Twitter at @KuniFoundation.

About Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative

Based in Portland, Oregon, the organization works with local partners to promote, support and develop inclusive, diverse communities consisting of families who have the opportunity for home ownership and include individuals often seen as ‘at-risk’ — elders, people who experience disability and people below median income. Our Home communities are based on strengths, interests and shared values, not deficits and needs. Learn more at www.ourhomeicc.org, www.facebook.com/Our-Home-Inclusive-Community-Collaborative or via Twitter at @OurHomeICC

https://www.kunifoundation.org/post/wayne-d-kuni-joan-e-kuni-foundation-funds-groundbreaking-inclusive-housing-model

#inclusivehousing #cohousing #developmentaldisabilities #intellectualdisability #disabilityhousing #inclusion #equity #idd #philanthropy #innovation

Housing Challenges and Solutions

This is a great OpEd piece that outlines our housing challenges in Portland and makes a call for creative solutions – just what the Our Home – Cathedral Park project intends to do!

“To remedy this problem for all people will require greater collaboration between public agencies and nonprofits and an increased emphasis on universal design — that is, buildings and environments that are equally accessible to older people, people with disabilities and people without disabilities.”
Joe Wykowski, Community Vision, Inc.

Housing affordability a particular problem for the disabled

Oregon Live, Jan 18, 2016

Visioning Session


Thank you to Community Vision, Inc for hosting a graphically facilitated visioning session for the Our Home project in Cathedral Park with Aaron Johannes of Spectrum Society. Community members, potential neighbors, supporters and visionaries attended. Many great ideas and reflections were shared – very helpful as we move forward to build this vision into beautiful homes and community!

Design / Build Team

We are pleased to announce that Johnston Architects and Grand + Benedicts Construction have been selected for the first Our Home, ICC project. Both firms bring great experience and heart to the project. A big Thank You to the Community Vision, Inc team for making this happen!

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