Mustard Seed Executive Director Edie Morgan brainstorms with the members of the community on options for a senior housing unit on the Key Peninsula. Fundraising will soon begin to raise approximately $3 million to build a residential unit near Key Center. Photo by Joe Hendricks

Eight years after its inception, The Mustard Seed Project is getting closer to one of its initiatives –– building affordable senior housing on the Key Peninsula.

Working with a council of elders and surveying the needs of the community, the nonprofit identified senior housing as one of four focus areas, which also included transportation, information and referral, and health and wellness.

“We hope to build in Key Center, a good, central location for our community. Our vision is to have a campus with a café and meeting spaces, 10 independent living cottages that are one or two bedrooms with laundry, housekeeping and one meal a day provided, and then assisted living for 30 residents, including dementia care,” said board president Sara Thompson in a press release. “We want this to be a place that draws the entire community in, rather than a setting that sets elders aside in an isolated environment.”

The Mustard Seed Project Executive Director Edie Morgan said she has spent many years considering the models available for caring for elders in a way that honors their wisdom and encourages as much independence as possible.

She attended a workshop presented by The Green House Project. Terri Sult, a consultant on the project, said, “I have been in contact with Edie since 2007 when she first had the vision of what you would all like to accomplish so that people don’t have to leave the Key Peninsula as they age and have home care needs.”

Morgan knows there are significant barriers to people remaining in their homes as they age. Although challenges to aging in place are ongoing, staff and volunteers have made real inroads in serving hundreds of Key Peninsula residents every year.

More than a year ago, a longtime supporter of the organization made a major gift to undertake a long-desired study to understand both the needs of the community and the financial feasibility for senior housing. As a result, The Mustard Seed Project had a meeting in November at the Key Peninsula Civic Center to explain the results of the study and to plan for the next steps.

In the model Morgan favors, 10 residents per household would have their own private bedrooms, which surround a central living, dining and kitchen area. Residents would spend most of their time in the central area, where they could help with meals, engage in activities and visit with family members.

A nurse would provide medical supervision but the care would be provided by staff trained to care for elders in a comprehensive way.

“Well be applying for a predevelopment loan to do all the necessary preliminary planning —to hire a project manager, to secure a site, hire an architect to draw up preliminary plans, and then to hire a contractor,” Morgan said. “Were aware of affordable loans for the assisted living portion of the project, and can get standard financing for the other buildings. But there will be a funding gap, and we expect to need to raise nearly $3 million to make this happen. I believe we can do it.” 

An advisory committee will work with Morgan and the board to hire a project manager. According to retired architect Bart Wolfe, “Its critical to have a good professional team in place to help with due diligence on every step from site selection on throughout the project.”

The entire project, once the project manager is identified, is expected to take about two years.

For information about The Mustard Seed Project, visit themustardseedproject.org or call 884-1205.

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