PARK CITY, Utah — Two local nonprofits are joining forces to provide housing for the young adult members of Park City’s neurodiverse population.
Pat Matheson, executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, became aware of the need for neurodiverse housing options in 2017 by meeting with parents of neurodiverse children at the National Ability Center, including Liza Howell, Wes Stout, Stephanie Polukof.
In early 2020, these and other parents formed a new nonprofit organization called Bridge21, whose goal is to create affordable housing options for neurodiverse adults, whether they be on the autism spectrum, suffering from traumatic brain injuries, or who face other neurodiverse challenges.
The founders of Bridge21 wanted to explore providing housing options for their young adults to live independently.
Mountainlands owns the adjacent properties of Holiday Village and Parkside Apartments, both of which include a significant population of families or individuals with developmental disabilities.
In collaboration with Bridge21, the nonprofit is now looking at redeveloping the two properties to create a co-housing community and campus for the adult neurodiverse population within a portion of the project.
“What’s so exciting to us is we couldn’t have dreamt of a better location for our young adults,” said Deb Hartley, who was named executive director of Bridge 21 in March.
“It is important that our residents work at least part-time as a first step towards transition to independent living. We also wanted housing that is close to the free public bus so they can independently get to their jobs, grocery shopping, restaurants, doctors, etc.
“We also wanted a location which would allow us to create more of a campus feel, allowing for community spaces for events and programs to operate as well as room for the resident steward to live. While we had envisioned securing some existing real estate rental opportunities, our ability to be in on the ground floor of the design of the community is beyond our wildest dreams.”
There are currently a total of 122 apartments between the two properties.
“Avoiding tenant relocation during construction to the greatest extent possible is a critical priority for us,” said Mountainlands Community Housing Trust Executive Director Pat Matheson.
“We aim to build new buildings for our existing tenants by building the first building in one of the open spaces on the property and then building the next building(s) where the vacated buildings currently stand. We plan to do this in phases, one building at a time to have a minimal impact on our residents.”
The two nonprofits plan to formally submit an application to the Park City Planning Commission in the fall, with the goal of occupancy by 2024.
“The greatest opportunities with these forty-year-old projects are their ideal locations, the monthly rental assistance available to most tenants, 100% ownership by Mountainlands and space on the site for phased redevelopment,” Matheson said.
“The most significant challenge in redevelopment will be restructuring existing financing to maintain affordability benefits for tenants. In partnership with Bridge21, Utah Housing Corporation, lenders and other community partners, we are confident we will be able to raise the funds to offset high development costs and create a win-win redevelopment solution.”