Virginia Supportive Housing new Independence House in Richmond,
Virginia may not be a one-of-a-kind. But when it opened on Thursday, September 29th, in the city's historic Fulton Hill neighborhood, it certainly became a few-of-a-kind-the first HUD Section 811 group home for people with traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.
The need for such a facility is obvious. Some 12,000 Virginians, in fact, suffer from severe brain injuries, according to the state's Department of Rehabilitative Services.
"There is just no place for people to go who have been injured," Virginia Supportive Housing Executive Director Alice Tousignant told NBC12.-TV at the ribbon-cutting. "Once they're done with rehab they just get lost."
Not anymore, at least not in Richmond. With a two-story, 2,000-square-foot renovated and a brand-new 4,000-square-addition, Independence House will provide living space for six residents and a night manager with all the required supportive services. "And if they need a job," adds Tousignant, "we'll help them get a job" and to "learn how to take care of themselves."
The new home's first resident already is giving it rave reviews. A 45-year-old former police officer injured in a motorcycle accident six years ago, Bruce Abbott used to be "shipped," his twin sister said, "from family member to family member."
But now Abbott has a place to call his own. "I'm just happy to be here," he told NBC12 TV. No wonder, adds Tousignant. "No wonder, said Ms. Tousignant: Independence House is "giving people hope that they can make it."
In addition to HUD's Section 811 capital advance program, Independence House received funding from the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the City of Richmond and private foundations. From start to finish, Virginia Supprotive Housing and its co-sponsor - High Hopes - completed the complex in less than a year.