Edwards Center Pocket Housing

Aloha, Oregon

The Aloha Project is a pocket neighborhood with innovative family housing. According to disability advocates, it is the first of its kind in the Portland area and will include 10 homes. Five will be three- to five-bedroom houses. The other five will be 900-square-foot "mother-in-law" cottages or ADUs that sit behind the larger residencies. Some houses will be for families of children with disabilities. And some will be for families whose adult children choose to live alone but nearby. While others will be shared housing or other combinations based on preference. Thus far two of the eight buildings have been constructed.

The Aloha project is the vision of the Washington County-based Edwards Center which opened its doors in the early 1970s as a response to that era's trend: big, impersonal institutions. Today, the nonprofit provides housing, employment and other individualized services for developmentally disabled adults in 18 locations across the Portland area. Their properties include single-family homes, duplexes and apartments, all with overnight staffing and 24 hour support available.  

Working closely with Creative Housing Solutions' George Braddock and Rowell Brokaw Architects, the Edwards Center's vision to create a truly integrated community setting will provide housing to disabled adults and serve as a bridge between those we serve and the surrounding, non-disabled community. Instead of building another group home, the nonprofit is creating an entire neighborhood—with space for the disabled residents' families. This new model, it is believed, will save money, because clients won't require full-time nurses. Instead, they'll pool resources and share one nurse, based out of the community center. They'll have their families and neighbors looking out for them, too.

The first phase of the project, the Edwards Community Center, was completed in early 2013. It was an extensive renovation and expansion that provided 11,000 sf of social, classroom, gathering and office space. The renovation transformed the original dark, inward-looking building, used recycled brick and roof tile, and introduced contemporary Northwest forms to make a community gathering place reaching out to welcome everyone.