Federal grant to help house three people with developmental disabilities in Overland Park

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — More affordable housing will soon be available in Overland Park for people with developmental disabilities. 

Monday the Overland Park City Council approved issuing a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Friends of Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS). 

Janel Bowers, Chief Development and Operations Officer for Friends of JCDS, said the funds will help cover the cost to renovate a home near West 83rd Terrace and England Street.

Once renovations are complete, the building will serve as a state-licensed group home for county residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

“We were able to request funds to help in the renovation expense of this house which will be a three bedroom, two bath that will meet those needs for those individuals that receive residential services through Johnson County Developmental Supports,” Bowers said.

Volunteers and contractors will work to make the home accessible to meet residents’ specific needs. Bowers said it’s important for the homes to be intentionally designed with residents’ needs in mind.

She said details like installing wider than average doors, or offering more space in the kitchen can make things significantly easier for residents with mobility challenges. 

The home will offer special accommodations like curbless showers with special drainage to allow easier access for residents in wheelchairs.

“Typical [home] renovations aren’t quite as involved [as this project]. When we look at doing a bathroom, it’s making sure that it’s tiled and it’s waterproofed throughout so that a wheelchair or other mobility devices can fully operate,” Bowers said. “It means a ramp that goes out front. It means that all doorways are wider and can be accessed throughout the house.”

In addition to the cost of purchasing the home, Bowers estimates renovations will cost approximately $150,000 to complete. The home will also require a fire sprinkler system with a special dedicated waterline that could cost an additional $25,000 to $35,000. 

Bowers said the goal is to have the main floor of the home complete by the end of December, with residents tentatively moving in by January 2022.

Friends of JCDS already has people lined up to move into all three rooms of the house. Bowers said once a lease is signed, tenants will pay $345 per month in rent for the life of the lease.

“We work with Johnson County Developmental Supports to identify who has the greatest need. When we buy a house we typically know who’s moving in and we really structure that house for those individuals,” Bowers said. 

The nonprofits’ long-term goal is to create additional homes, and address the need for more affordable housing for individuals living independently.

“Our next set of goals is four more houses that address the immediate need for residential services; that will be three bedroom homes,” Bowers said.  “We also know we need to address individuals who are living independently that are paying $600 or $700 a month rent on an income of $1,100.”

“I think it’s so important that our communities are diverse. Diversity is living next to somebody that doesn’t look like you,” Bowers said. “I think this opportunity to be in different neighborhoods where we have individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we have individuals with different faiths and different ideas all living together makes Johnson County great.”

Friends of JCDS is looking for volunteers to help with things like landscaping, hanging wallpaper and general home preparation tasks. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the project can find more information on the Friends of JCDS website.

Through November 23 Friends of JCDS will be selling raffle tickets for a holiday tree and gifts. All proceeds will go towards affordable and accessible housing assistance. You can purchase a raffle ticket here.

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