Six Lawrence citizens will celebrate Independence Day on Oct. 6 this year.
That's the day they'll gain a new degree of independence when the Bert Nash Community Health Center opens its first supported housing complex for mentally disabled adults.
"The complex is a response to the shortage of housing for adults with long-term mental health needs," said Sandra J. Shaw, the center's chief executive officer. "We want to help support their capacity to live independently within their own communities."
On Oct. 6, the Oread Neighborhood Assn. will join the Douglas County Families for Mental Health, the Mental Health Association of Douglas County and Project Acceptance in hosting a public open house from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the four-plex at 911 Ohio. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m.
THE OPEN HOUSE also will feature a "welcome home" shower to honor the new Oread residents, Shaw said. Guests are encouraged to bring household items such as sheets, bedspreads, pillows, towels, dinnerware and kitchen utensils and linens.
The center purchased and renovated the four-plex with funds raised by its ongoing Building Independence campaign, which so far has raised an estimated $150,000 through private sources. The campaign was kicked off with a $100,000 donation the largest in the center's history by longtime Lawrence residents Charles and Tensie Oldfather, who will cut the ribbon at the open house.
About half the cost of the housing project has been paid for by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaw said.
The complex, which has two units with two bedrooms and two units with one bedroom, will house up to six adults and a live-in case manager. Shaw said the center hoped to raise more money to pay for continuing expenses of the complex.
"IDEALLY, we'd like to raise another $100,000 to support this project," she said. "We simply don't have the funds in the center's budget to cover any unexpected costs related to maintaining the apartment or to providing staffing for this unit."
In addition, the center is seeking donated furniture because the apartments are unfurnished and several of the people moving into them do not have furniture of their own, she said.
Major items needed include twin- or full-size beds, dressers, tables, chairs and sofas, she said. People willing to donate furniture are asked to contact the Bert Nash Center at 843-9192.
Finding six residents to fill the Ohio Street four-plex wasn't difficult, Shaw said. In fact, there are already people waiting for the next complex to become available.
"We need at least three more of these units," she said.