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‘Special families’ exploring a co-housing concept

© 2016 the Naples Daily News , Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

NAPLES, Fla. —Terry and Debby Kays, Naples, Florida, want to develop what they call “cohousing,” where families live side by side in a community they run with a shared mission of caring for loved ones with autism or other disabilities. The concept is for safe, affordable and financially sustainable long-term housing.

The Kays operate a local non-profit advocacy group called Adonis Autism.

The planned name is Osprey Village, and the Kays are searching for families to join them.

“What we need to do is support these families,” Terry Kays said.

The couple knows firsthand the predicament of families with a child or adult child with a disability.

Debby Kays has a son, Walter, 23, who has autism. He is living with them at home again in North Naples after an unsuccessful try at a local group home.

The idea of Osprey Village is similar to senior communities with supportive services, Terry Kays said.

“Cohousing is self-organized and a self-financed group of families that come together to develop a supportive community,” he said. “It is family driven.”

There are about 130 family-run housing communities around the country similar to the Osprey Village concept but none in Southwest Florida or the region, Terry Kays said.

The communities can be designed in many different ways but an overriding principle is that families decide the structure.

He envisions the cost for each family at roughly $200,000 to $250,000 but much of that depends on the cost of land. A minimum of seven acres is needed but 10 acres is more ideal.

A key layout feature is a cluster of single family homes, townhomes or a combination with a pedestrian corridor for safety.

Henning put some concepts on paper for Osprey Village with townhouses and a community center for families to consider the possibilities.

The architect interested in the project suggested a community center or “common house” is for shared activities, classrooms and other services. The common house would offer respite to families by sharing tasks, according to a brochure for the community.

“A lot of parents are single parents and have to work,” Debby Kays said.

Since the Kays started working on Osprey Village, they have 6 families interested in participating in the project.

“We need 20,” Kays said. “That is our goal.”

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