Building homes for developmentally disabled

May 29, 2009 7:23:23 PM PDT
There are an estimated 72,000 homeless people living in the nine Bay Area counties. They sleep in parks, under bridges, and sometimes on the sidewalks. And the downturn in the economy is only making matters worse. However, it has also become an opportunity.

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This is a rare sight during the home building slump. Construction crews at a site in Hayward are working on something special.

"I think we were particularly interested because this project dealt with a segment of the potentially homeless that's underserved," says Jeff Scofield, vice president of Pulte Homes.

It is a cluster of five group homes for the developmentally disabled. The first two homes are nearing completion. Thanks to Good Care, the developmentally disabled are living longer. But who will take care of them as they outlive their parents and siblings?

"This is a problem that really hasn't been addressed by the state, and we are attempting to take on the care of up to 30 seniors for the long-term," says Laura Bone of Emerald Glen Homes.

This kind of project could cost upwards of $2.5 million. However, the Village at Walpert Center will come in at half that price, thanks to Homeaid Northern California, a non-profit that has enlisted the help of trades people, suppliers and project managers, such as Ralph Walker.

"Some people will donate 100 percent. Some people will donate 15 percent. It's just depending on how they can work it with their companies, and it's really helped us a lot," says Walker.

Walker and Scofield have been involved in eight Homeaid shelter projects over the past 10 years. They oversee the work, hammer out the budget, and seek volunteers. That's on top of their full-time jobs building subdivisions.

"They are sensitive that these people are volunteers and you have to be flexible, but at the same time, they ask that their trade partners treat this job like any other, and they both wield a lot of respect," says Julie O'Connor of Homeaid Northern California.

Best friends Lupe Castro and Kathryn Logue hope to move in soon. They are approaching their senior years, and the new home will give them security and stability.

"Real nice for us," says Logue.

It is all made possible by volunteers and in-kind contributions from Northern California home builders who want to address homelessness.

"Once you've done one of them, you know, it is so fulfilling that I think the second one you get involved with, the third one, the fourth one... it really becomes more about doing it because of how it feels than it is out of what you might have to gain otherwise," says Scofield.

ABC7 salutes Jeff Scofield, Ralph Walker, and the team at Homeaid Northern California for what they have done to help 5,000 homeless and disabled people over the past decade.

If you know someone we should salute, let us know.

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