The Edwards Center is an Aloha, Oregon-based nonprofit committed to “erasing the lines between the abled and the disabled.” Dr. Jean Edwards, along with several families of children shut out of the public school system because of their disabilities, founded Edwards Center in 1972. Together they launched one of the nation’s first non-profit organizations dedicated to the independence and dignity of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy and other debilitating conditions. The Edwards Center’s mission is to give people with disabilities the chance to live and work as other Americans do—in non-institutionalized settings.
The Aloha Project is the first of its kind in the country, and will include 10 family homes and a renovated community center. The completed Aloha Community Center provides 11,000 sf of social, classroom, gathering, office space and a commercial kitchen. This extensive renovation and expansion 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. The second phase of the project is the development of an adjacent pocket neighborhood with innovative family housing. Instead of building another group home, the Edwards Center nonprofit is creating an entire neighborhood—with space for the disabled residents' families—in a quiet pocket of unincorporated Washington County. Five homes will be three- to five-bedroom houses. The other five will be 900-square-foot "mother-in-law" cottages that sit behind the larger residencies.