Tri-Valley REACH creates inclusive communities for adults with developmental disabilities (DD) by providing truly affordable, quality housing in Livermore and Pleasanton. The nonprofit currently owns 11 homes, between Livermore and Pleasanton, that house 36 individuals. REACH properties are a combination of single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes.
Many in the community have not heard of the nonprofit, which provides housing for about 20% of the individuals, aged 18 or older, who receive Independent Living Services or Supported Living Services, according to Sharon Almeida, Vice Chair of the Tri-Valley REACH board. "We were so surprised and honored to have recently received the Pleasanton Mayors' award from Karla Brown. We are not used to being in the spotlight and are so grateful for the support from our city leaders."
More than 1,600 individuals with developmental disabilities live in Pleasanton, Livermore, and Dublin, according to the California Department of Developmental Services. An estimated 85% of them live at home with their families and only 10% live on their own, notes Almeida. "What happens when family members are no longer around to provide housing for these people? One of the biggest challenges for people with developmental disabilities is isolation. We provide an opportunity for individuals with DD to live independently in their community just like everyone else. We have a shared housing model which gives our tenants a community within their homes."
People with DD often have very low incomes or are underemployed due to a lack of opportunities. Some are unable to work full-time jobs. REACH housing is provided to its tenants at an "extremely low rent" that makes it possible for them to live in a home they ordinarily could not afford, according to Almeida. "We are more than the typical landlord. REACH works with each tenant and their support staff to ensure their living environment supports any special needs they may have. Any modifications or adaptations to the home that might be needed for a tenant are done by REACH. We maintain each property to the highest level with routine and preventative maintenance. We want to be the best neighbor on the block and as a result, our tenants are very welcome in their neighborhoods."
Once accepted, REACH tenants get more than a new home. "Tenants of REACH learn to cook, clean, budget their money, shop, work, use public transportation, and enjoy community activities just like the rest of us," says Patty van Looy, a member of the REACH board. "Our son has resided in a REACH home for almost a year, and we have seen tremendous growth in his maturity, ability to make daily decisions on his own, and ability to take responsibility for his own money and personal life."
In the face of the region's expensive housing market, REACH is working to add auxiliary dwelling units to its properties as a way to maximize the number of people it can help. REACH is run by an all-volunteer board, receives no federal or state funding, and collects only minimal rent. As a result, the organization depends on community support to function and its primary income comes from donations, local grants, and fundraisers. Next year the group plans to increase fundraising events. This year, REACH's annual fundraiser will be held on Thursday, August 11 at McGrail Vineyards. "REACHing for Independence" will feature scenic vistas of Livermore's wine country at sunset.