Tenant, Neighbor, Garden Host
Movin' Out owns and operates more than 37 site rental units scattered in five Wisconsin counties: homes that match well the familiar, ordinary neighborhoods in which they are located--homes that provide sustainable, affordable, accessible shelter. Movin' Out leases the homes to people with disabilities who qualify for long term support services.
When Movin' Out took on a well-worn property from another non-profit, it needed substantial work inside and out. Sally, our tenant, has lived there for 20 years, ever since she was discharged from a state institution. As the years go by, she needs more modifications that allow her to remain in her own home. Her house sits on a big lot. So we developed a plan to completely remodel her home and build a new second unit to accommodate two other tenants. Sally and her support team worked with us from the beginning to factor in the big and small details that would tailor the improvements to her preferences as well as her current and future needs. She has a state-of-the-art tile roll-in shower. In the remodeling, Sally retained a few antique wooden doors with original hardware.
We worked closely with the support teams of the two men identified as tenants for the new unit. Like the transformed existing unit, the new unit is entirely barrier free and accommodates all the tenants’ stuff, including sound systems, big TV, wheel chairs and therapy equipment. Both men had lived alone in their own apartments and wanted to maintain as much autonomy as they could while, at the same time, finding cost saving in sharing a home. We designed the new unit so it could function as two integrated units: each with a nice-sized bedroom, each with its own adjoining sitting room, individual bathrooms, and a shared kitchen and dining area. The layout succeeds in offering each tenant the privacy they both value while also providing companionship and affordable rent. The layout is flexible enough so that a live-in caregiver or third housemate can be accommodated, if needed and preferred by the tenants in the future.
Even with the addition of the second unit, the yard still holds enough space to set up a community garden administered by the local community action program. Neighborhood gardeners greet the tenants and share the bounty of the vegetable garden.
Members of Fire Fighters Local 311 volunteered to clear the portion of the yard dedicated as a community garden. They also constructed a porch and a deck to allow the tenants to enjoy the backyard and greet the gardeners. Sally and her two neighbors rely on day to day care provided by Neighborhood Connections, an agency specializing in personalized support geared not only to the person’s care needs but also to support them in their roles as neighbor, lease holder, and community member.