Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

October 24, 2012

Iris Cottage created to help handicapped and homeless

CROSSVILLE — There is a Cumberland County lady presently in a local nursing home who is only there because she is handicapped and, if released, has no where to go. Another person cannot be accepted because of a handicap that confines that person to a wheelchair.

On Monday both, and others like them, will have a place they can call home and a home that goes one step further — one that teaches life skills and self proficiency that will lead to their return to living on their own.

"Not only does Iris Cottage provide shelter for homeless, it also provides a coach to help those with handicaps prepare for future independent living," said Kylie Johnson, case manager for the home. "It is a very unique service that is being provided; I know of no other in this area."

The new residence became a reality with the financial partnership of the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Crossville House Authority, Upper Cumbeland Continuum of Care, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and Cumberland County Bank.

Officials, supporters and CHA staff gathered Friday morning for a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for Iris Cottage, located at 425 Iris Circle in Crossville. Tours of the facility, which officially opened Monday, were offered to attendees.

After officials from several institutions participating were introduced, Ralph Reagan, director of the Bread of Life shelter, dedicated the home. Bread of Life and CHA partner together on a host of programs which allows both agencies to expand their services.

The new residence features four private bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms, a shared gathering or living room, kitchen and spacious laundry area, all handicapped accessible. On the back of the residence is a raised deck/patio area complete with furnishings.

CHA Director Don Alexander explained that the concept for a home for the handicapped homeless grew out of the housing authority's participation in Cumberland House, a partnership effort with Hospice of Cumberland County.

"After our involvement with Cumberland House, staff wanted to see us get involved in similar projects and that idea grew into the concept that led to the building of Iris Cottage," Alexander said.

Johnson said she looks forward to helping teach residents how to become self-sufficient, despite the handicaps they may face.

Johnson's duties include planning activities of daily living, including the filing of applications for obtaining eligible financial, educational and employment opportunities. She will also plan meals for the four residents, but will teach the residents how to prepare and cook the meals for themselves.

In addition to meal preparation and planning (healthy food menu), residents will be taught laundry and housekeeping skills, social skills, employment searches, community involvement, financial literacy and general life skills needed to become self-sufficient.

The ultimate goal is for residents to acquire the skills they need to live on their own during a year at Iris Cottage. However, there is no deadline for reaching that goal and those who need will be able to enter into more than a one 12-month lease agreement.

Cost to the resident is 30 percent of their income.

A brochure lists two requirement that must be met for consideration to participate in the self-help program:

•Homeless, living in a shelter, living on the street or car, in a place not meant for human habitation, etc., and;

•Disabled, such as those with serious mental illness, chronic problems, with alcohol and/or drugs, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or related diseases.

Staff will be at the house from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. and the cottage features a security alarm for safety of the residents. The back yard is large enough for a garden spot and Johnson said she hopes to teach the residents to grow a vegetable garden.

One person is set to occupy the cottage next week and a second will move in around the first of November.

For more information about Iris Cottage or any of the many other programs CHA is involved with, call 484-2990.

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