A project under construction off the Redmond Parkway could represent a new housing option for people with severe and persistent mental illness in Oregon.
But the team behind Juniper Canyon Living must still obtain a state contract to provide specialized care and partner with local agencies.
A 5.4-acre lot on NW Spruce Ave. has been leveled and roads and water lines are being added to the property. Plans for a residential campus include five, 1-story dorms and a 2-story storage building. The $16 million commercial project is expected to start taking on residents in June 2021 and provide “stable, supportive housing” for 108 residents. It will employ around 125 people, from salaried positions like counselors, nurses and a psychologist, to hourly workers like caregivers, medical technicians and housekeeping, maintenance and dining staff.
The developers behind the project, Austin Evans and Don Tavolacci of the firm CRH Northwest, specialize in assisted living, having built three facilities in Washington and one in Portland.
CRH Northwest’s Christopher House in Wenatchee, Wash. has a similar model to the one envisioned for Juniper Canyon Living, Evans said. Christopher House, located in an old hospital, houses adults with special behavioral needs, with less of a focus on medical care than traditional assisted living.
Oregon has tighter rules for who can contract to provide these services, Evans said. That’s why he and Tavolacci partnered with Mark Kinkade, head of operations for Gateway Living in the Eugene area. Kinkade oversees eight residential care facilities in Oregon and understands the system.
“There’s a huge need for beds in Oregon but there’s just not a lot of people who can do this,” he said.
This includes people who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries, people with a category of Alzheimer’s called specialized dementia and people with severe addiction.
Officials at Juniper Canyon Living expect to accept residents referred from local aid agencies, like the county’s new stabilization center and St. Charles Bend’s Acute Psychiatric Care facility.
Living there will cost between $6,000 and $10,000 per resident per month. Most of that is expected to come through Medicaid, though private parties are allowed to pay a loved one’s room and board. The facility will be staffed 24/7 and residents will be allowed to come and go as they please.
The developers submitted designs to the city of Redmond in February and received approval in March. They haven’t yet contracted with the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide specialized care but the state has granted them the right to proceed with the project.
Also interested in the project is the Redmond Police Department, whose officers regularly interact with people with mental illness. Many are in crisis but don’t belong in jail.
“The Redmond Police Department supports efforts which provide resources and assistance to individuals suffering from mental health disorders,” said Redmond Lt. Jesse Petersen.
Evans said the success or failure of Juniper Canyon Living will come down to relationships with other entities.
So far, a number of leaders in the field of mental health in Central Oregon know little about the project. They include Holly Harris, program manager for Deschutes County crisis services, and Adam Goggins, director of the Deschutes County Stabilization Center. Evans said Juniper Canyon Living will rely heavily on both entities for resident referrals.
Harris said JCL representatives recently reached out and she plans to meet with them in the next few weeks.