The proposed 30-unit assisted living senior housing campus will be located across from The Mustard Seed Project Crandall Center above Key Center. Architectural rendering courtesy: Rice Fergus Miller

The goal of bringing assisted living for seniors to the Key Peninsula took a giant leap forward when the Washington State Legislature finally approved its capital budget in January.

The Mustard Seed Project (TMSP) will receive $515,000 from the state capital budget, which boosts the capital campaign beyond the halfway mark. Now the organization can apply for funding from foundations that require demonstration of community support.

“With great effort, cooperation and financial support from the community for our capital building campaign, which began in 2015, we surpassed the $1 million milestone, following generous end-of-year donations,” said Edie Morgan, executive director, who founded the nonprofit in 2006.

The Mustard Seed Project was founded with the idea of creating an elder-friendly community to bring together a variety of services that allow seniors to age happily in place in their own homes. And yet, as Sara Thompson, president of the board put it, “Eventually, there comes a time when it’s no longer possible to stay at home. There is no place for people to live on the KP once they can no longer be independent.”

The group hired a national consultant to conduct a feasibility study in 2014. The study showed that there was a need; that TMSP could build a self-sustaining project. Once feasibility was established, the board has taken action to make it a reality.

“The state grant is part of our overall $2.2 million capital campaign to bring senior assisted living housing to the KP,” said Thompson. The funds allocated for the project in the state capital budget will pay for architect fees, permits and some of the environmental studies required for development of the land, located across the street from The Mustard Seed Project’s Crandall Center.

TMSP obtained a predevelopment loan in 2015 to hire an architect and professionals to manage development finances and the capital campaign project.

“The senior living campus will be managed by experts who understand our mission,” said Thompson. “Concepts in Community Living (CCL) operates in the Northwest, particularly in rural communities, with the expertise in doing exactly what we want to do.” Mauro Hernandez, CEO of CCL, has been working with TMSP since 2015 and has helped guide their understanding of how assisted living facilities work best.

According to TMSP, staffing the new facility will result in 25 or more new jobs on the Key Peninsula.

The Mustard Seed Project is applying for a rural development loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is being shepherded through the complex process by a professional consultant. The USDA funds rural development at an interest rate lower than offered by commercial banks. “The terms of the USDA loan are so generous that the income from the residents themselves will help pay off the loan,” said Frank Garratt, co-chair of the capital campaign committee with Thompson.

“We are in the design and development phase with our architects,” Morgan said. “We will soon be ready to submit to Pierce County for building permits.”

Having this infusion of funds allows moving ahead without delay. “The goal is to break ground by December 2018,” Morgan said.

It was Mustard Seed board member Norm McLaughlin who suggested the project would be a great candidate for capital funding from the state. His experience serving on other boards proved quite valuable. “Without Norm McLaughlin, we might never have thought to apply for the funds; we also would not have been successful without the support of our state legislators Jan Angel and particularly Rep. Michelle Caldier, who visited the site with her assistant to help facilitate the process,” Thompson said.

Disclosure: Sara Thompson is a KP News writer and president of the KP News publishing board.


MORE ABOUT Senior Housing

This new senior living campus will serve elders, the community and increase the economic vitality of the Key Peninsula. Innovative living arrangements will be surrounded by gardens, walking paths with a community gathering place and café across the street in the existing Crandall Center.

The Mustard Seed Project will be the first and only assisted living senior housing available on the Key Peninsula. The project provides a positive impact, according to TMSP’s Development Manager Marion Sharp:

  • Gives elders the choice to remain in the community they love, close to family and friends
  • Draws upon best-practice proven models for elder care
  • Delivers quality care to elders of all backgrounds.
  • Two of the buildings will accommodate seniors with daily support and a third will serve residents needing memory care. About 30 percent of the housing will serve people on Medicaid, with the balance at or below market rate.

Monthly rent will cover a private studio apartment with kitchenette, bath and space for bed and seating area; shared living areas; three meals a day; housekeeping and laundry service.

Nursing care will be on a fee-for-service basis.

Residents will furnish their own apartments. Couples can choose units with connecting doors or larger floor plans.

Progress is underway. The architect has completed a schematic design for the three buildings and Korsmo Construction has been selected as construction manager and general contractor.

Construction is slated to be completed in late 2019. Funds from the ongoing capital campaign will support development and construction. The assisted living campus will be self-sustaining, with monthly rent and fees servicing debt and operating costs.

The housing project has been designed to operate without financial support from The Mustard Seed Project after startup. “The core programs of The Mustard Seed Project continue to serve a growing constituency of seniors living on the Key Peninsula.

Last year, TMSP served 804 individuals in 4,305 instances,” said Executive Director Edie Morgan. “We continue to recruit, train and connect volunteers with elders to provide information and referral, transportation, chore services and more.”

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