Patuxent Commons is built on a very simple premise: we’re stronger together.
The community will adapt an innovative housing strategy in which individuals and families of different ages, abilities and incomes live alongside one another and commit to being supportive neighbors. It will tap the power of inclusive community to build a strong, diverse network of neighbors who are willing to lend one another reciprocal social support.
Variations on this approach can be found in communities across the country serving a variety of populations. Portland, Oregon’s Bridge Meadows brings together former foster youth, their adoptive families, and older adults in a small, mutually-supportive community that’s proven effective at increasing housing stability and enhancing social connectedness. In New Orleans, Bastion applies a similarly innovative approach by leveraging the social capital of neighbors to create a supportive community in which wounded warrior veterans with life-long rehabilitative needs and their families live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers.
At Patuxent Commons, the 76-unit, mixed income community will be comprised of three primary resident groups: adults with disabilities, older adults, and younger adults/families. Residents will take an active role in helping their neighbors in a manner appropriate to their abilities and interests.
Defined values, like inclusivity and independence, are at the heart of the planning of Patuxent Commons, along with a commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities control where and with whom they live. Our concept calls for 25% of the housing units to be set-aside for adults with disabilities, with the balance of units for other residents.
The community is being developed to achieve four primary objectives:
Address housing instability faced by adults with disabilities, older adults, and families in need of affordable housing
Enhance social connectedness through building of relationships and community capacity, and reciprocal sharing of social support by neighbors
Use housing as a springboard to maximize individual potential and facilitate community integration for people of all ages, abilities and incomes
Pioneer a viable, innovative solution to the growing housing crisis facing adults with disabilities that can be adapted elsewhere in Maryland and serve as a model for similar developments throughout the United States
The Howard County Autism Society (HCAS) has taken the lead in conceptualizing Patuxent Commons as a partial solution to the housing crisis facing adults with autism and other disabilities in Howard County. HCAS and its members have provided crucial seed funding and the input needed to bring this initiative forward, evolving it from a promising idea to a viable concept.
But the initiative is bigger than autism or even disability for that matter. Under HCAS’s leadership, a 12-member Task Force, comprised of public and private sector leaders, experts in aging and services, and representatives of the larger disability community, has been established to drive this initiative’s progress. The Task Force has spent the past year engaging initial support for the project and assembling a project prospectus that contains detailed program information, preliminary market research, financial modeling, and architectural design concepts based on a potential location.
Bridge Meadows in Portland, OR, and Bastion in New Orleans serve different populations but are based on the same model being adapted in Howard County to serve people with and without disabilities.
A Garden for the Growing of People
Columbia is an ideal location for Patuxent Commons, given its many attributes, including public transportation access, vocational and educational opportunities, shopping, medical services and recreational facilities. The fact that Money magazine recently ranked Columbia as the number one place to live in the United States sums up why it’s an ideal home for this concept.
But there’s another reason: James Rouse.
In setting out to create Columbia, the visionary planner and developer Rouse said his goal was to create “A Garden for the Growing of People.” He envisioned a place where people could realize their full potential in neighborhoods where all were welcome. He recognized the need for such a place and saw opportunity where few others did. And he seized it, driven by a commitment to social inclusion and intentional planning that was revolutionary for its time.
The revolution continues. Today, Patuxent Commons, provides an opportunity to expand Rouse’s garden in Columbia with a concept that could be equally transformative in its own way. We’re committed to furthering Rouse’s vision by helping bring together the experienced partners and thoughtful plans needed to realize this ambitious, innovative housing solution.