The ribbon is cut at the Sparrows Housing unit

The ribbon is cut at the Sparrows Housing unit

Sparrows Housing officially opens with ribbon cutting

Sparrows Christian Housing officially opened their new semi-independent living facility on Saturday, capping off a year of hard work and dedication.

Sparrows Christian Housing officially opened their new semi-independent living facility on Saturday, capping off a year of hard work and dedication.

Designed for residents who are high-functioning people with developmental disabilities, the facility is a collaboration between the Sparrows Housing Society and Bethesda Christian Association.

Warren Vandenberg, chairman of the board for Sparrows Christian Housing, said it is tremendously gratifying, and relieving, to have the project finished a year since its groundbreaking.

“It’s semi-independent living for individuals with intellectual delays,” he said. “This is going to be their home for years to come.”

There are already three people moving into the facility on 16th Avenue, just across from Canadian Tire, and there is room for six residents.

There are four or five applications in the books right now, said Vandenberg, who said there is a process that will be taken to find out who is most suited to the environment.

Apart from individual apartments, there are laundry facilities, a shared kitchen and a common room.

There will also be a service provider to help them out with certain day-to-day task, including teaching laundry and cooking skills.

Vandenberg said there may be more in store for Sparrows but right now everyone involved is taking a much needed break.

“I would say this is step one but I really don’t know where step two comes into the picture.”

The Sparrows housing building has been years in the making and aimed to fill a gap in support for high-functioning individuals.

“The higher the functioning ability of someone, the lower the funding from the government to the point where somebody who couldn’t really live on their own is actually asked to live in the community on $600-700 a month,” he said.

A lot of families began to show interest in where their kids could live.

“Really it came down to ‘we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to find something.’ We really want it to be a continuum of what we have at home.”

Everything was looked at, from old apartment buildings to row housing.

“The middle ground was where we ended up.”

He recognizes the invaluable effort put in by volunteers and contractors who donated time and materials to the project.

“[We’re] very appreciative of everyone who took part in this.”

Also on hand for the opening was Bethesda Executive Director Burt Altena. This year is Bethesda’s 40th anniversary.

“When I came today this morning and had a look it just had a ‘wow’ factor about it,” he said. “The quality of construction that these guys put into the building is just really phenomenal.”

He said in the end it’s really about providing a safe haven for people to live.