AdaptAbilities – Frontier Community Services
In the general population not all housing developments are created with inclusion in mind, which is why Frontier Community Services is in the business they are in. Frontier is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating safe and affordable housing in Ohio. But they are also leveling the playing field by focusing on the construction of inclusive communities and supporting people with special needs with access to the supports they need to live their lives while being truly integrated into their community.
“You might say it’s in our DNA to provide housing for persons with disabilities,” suggests Rod Siddons, chief development officer at Frontier Community Services.
Frontier’s strategy has been simple; for every housing community they build, they incorporate accessible homes designed especially for people with disabilities. These single-story homes include layouts featuring open floor plans for easy maneuverability, ceiling tracks and door cut-outs for lift systems, roll-up sinks to accommodate a wheelchair, and custom-built bathrooms that provide space and flexibility. Recent houses that Frontier has constructed include fenced in backyards with patios and greenspace, and private areas to sit and relax.
“When you work in the field of developmental disabilities you realize quickly that the spectrum of disabilities is wide and deep. While we could make our best effort to be ‘all encompassing’ with a design for the individuals we serve, there were often changes that needed to be made to accommodate a specific person or need,” Rod states.
One of these special needs arose recently when a resident’s lift van could not fit all the way in the garage due to the customized van’s height. Rod asked the owner to measure the height of the van. “If I need to build something going forward to accommodate those types of vans, we will do that.”
Frontier has provided housing and support services to people with developmental disabilities since 1980. Because they are building houses for people with disabilities and others in the community, they are able to leverage several sources of funding. By using a combination of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the HOME program, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, state funding, and Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as private bank loans, they are able to continue building inclusive housing developments.
Over the past 20 years, Frontier has expanded housing efforts to include veterans, seniors, and low-income families. “We now have 30 multi-family developments with over 1400 units in our portfolio,” Rod says. “When I look back to see what we have done, it is amazing, but the work is here in front of us, and so we cannot spend much time looking back when there is so much good to do going forward.”