By Tim Leeds
The Havre Day Activity Center, Inc. held an open house Thursday to show off its new assisted living complex at 304 Seventh St.
The complex has 10 apartments with bathrooms and kitchenettes, a utility room, a communal kitchen and dining room, a communal living area and a communal kitchen. All areas of the complex are handicap-accessible. There is off-street parking with four handicap spaces and ten non-handicap spaces.
HDAC Executive Director Gary Nimmick said the complex will be for developmentally disabled people who are past the point of needing as much care as a group home provides, but who aren't quite ready for independent living in their own apartment yet.
Nimmick said there will always be at least one staff member on shift to assist the residents of the complex, possibly more depending on the needs of the residents. He said there will probably be more on shift during weekends, possibly as many as three at a time.
Nimmick said he and the board of directors and staff at HDAC have been talking about having a complex like this for about 20 years.
"We finally got everything arranged so we can get it done," he said.
Nimmick said part of the reason for building the complex is to decrease the number of people in the five group homes HDAC currently has. He said two of the homes have eight clients in them, and the intensive behavior home on the North Side has six. That's too many for the homes, he said.
Nimmick said this will be a good in-between step for teaching the developmentally disabled the skills they need for independent living. He said some residents might only need to be there for a few months, some might need to be there for years. He said the first residents for the complex will be clients currently in the group homes who have passed the need for the care at that level.
The complex is designed for the ease of its residents. All showers and bathrooms are handicap-accessible, countertops are lower and doors are handicap-accessible. While the apartments all have kitchenettes, the communal kitchen and dining area is available for those who are unable to cook for themselves. Nimmick said there aren't many facilities like this available in the area.
"There aren't many apartment buildings in this town with fully handicap-accessible facilities," he said.
Julie Neely, staff development and training coordinator at HDAC, said the communal kitchen will probably be used quite a bit when new tenants needing more assistance come into the complex. She said as they gain skills it will probably be used less and less.
There is still minor work to be done inside the complex, such as placing more fire extinguishers. The landscaping of the yard hasn't begun yet, but Nimmick said they hope to do that in June.
"Little bit of work ahead of us there," he said.
The architect for the complex is Rob Robinson, and Clausen & Sons are the contractors. The $550,000 building was financed by a low-interest mortgage through the Rural Development RHS program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The apartments will rent for $341 a month, with rental assistance available based on income.