Everything old is new again, and communities are once again starting to see the benefits of building group homes -- now called "congregate living facilities" -- for intellectually-challenged adults who are capable of living independently, but still need support services.

MCR was hired to renovate, expand, and convert a large, beautiful home in a Boston suburb into such a shared facility. We built 10 separate bedrooms for 10 residents, plus two staff apartments. The home featured a large kitchen and a group eating area, a landscaped outdoor area, a meeting/gathering room with a fireplace, a TV room, and shared laundry facilities. The building was cleverly designed so that from the street it still looks like a single-family home, which made the project more acceptable to neighboring residents.

An interesting aspect of this building is how it was financed. The parents and guardians of the future residents each purchased a room, just like one might purchase a condominium. That room would eventually become the legal property of the resident, giving the parents some peace of mind, knowing that even after they have passed away, their children will still have ownership and equity in an appropriate living space. This ownership model also made it possible for the residents themselves to be involved in decision about their own room's layout, paint colors, and other finishes.