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Our History

Home Life is a private, non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization providing safe, integrated, community living services for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities.

Home Life (formerly Housing for the Handicapped) began in Corvallis, Oregon in November 1972, when family members of people with developmental disabilities wanted alternative opportunities that would provide for challenge and growth and ultimately lead to more independent living. The idea was to create a 'home-like' environment, avoiding placement in the state institution, Fairview Training Center.

  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s

November 27th, 1972. Housing for the Handicapped (now Home Life) started with one home, Martha House. The home was named in honor of Martha Mumford who dedicated many years of her life serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities in Benton County and at Fairview Training Center. Martha House originally served ten women as the need for women's housing was greater than that of men's. After Martha House was established it quickly became a model for other group homes throughout the State of Oregon.

Martha House was funded in part through the Developmental Disabilities Act and through Benton County Mental Health, and in part through donations from United Good Neighbor (now known as United Way).

In 1973, Housing for the Handicapped applied for and received funds to open a second home. After one year of searching a house was located. In October 1974, Housing for the Handicapped opened a second home on Kings Blvd, serving eight men. Unfortunately, on December 30th, 1974 the house closed for six months during which time it was leased to another non-profit agency.

In 1976, Housing for the Handicapped purchased a home at the intersection of 25th Street and Fillmore which was licensed as a Residential Training Home serving twelve clients with developmental disabilities. The house was originally built for the priests and sisters from nearby St. Mary's church. In addition to the eight large bedrooms the house was equiped with a full basement which would provide a space for the newly established Semi-Independent Living Program.

From 1978 through 1981, Martha House was used as a training site for Teaching Research. Teaching Research and Housing for the Handicapped developed a Community Based Training Program that taught skills training techniques to residential training home staff from all around the state of Oregon. It was known as a model project. Once a month, for several years, groups of staff were trained; from this project hundreds of staff went back to their residential training homes to implement professional skills training.

As often occurs, Home Life experienced growing pains and compromises were made. The State of Oregon went into a major recession in 1980, and 40 skills trainers across the state were cut from the Mental Health Division's budget. Martha House lost it's skills trainer and Home Life's Training Home license was revoked and changed to a Care Home. The agency was in the middle of developing a new group home and was forced to change licenses at Martha House if the new home were to be licensed as a training home. The skills trainer position disappeared at Martha House and the behavior problems and staff turnover escalated. There were State promises that the skills trainer positions would be restored if the economy got better. The economy in Oregon has gotten much better, but the promised restoration of the funds for a skills trainer from the Mental Health Division has yet to occur.

With land donated by Anna and Dorval Bevens in 1980, and a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) 202 loan, ground breaking began for what would soon become Home Life's Division Street House. This was a long and tedious ordeal for all involved, and before it was over a second loan had to be obtained due to cost over-runs. Eventually, problems were solved, the dust settled and Division Street House opened it's doors in March 1982. Twelve clients moved in: six from the local Benton County Wait List and six direct from Fairview. Housing for the Handicapped now had four programs; Division Street, Martha House, 25th Street and the Semi-Independent Living Program. After dealing with all the red tape surrounding Division Street Home, Housing was ready for a rest.

In the spring of 1985 talk of Project '88 started and Housing for the Handicapped was asked to look into new development. Due to the lack of adequate funding, and the inability to integrate local Benton County people into the program, Housing for the Handicapped decided against opening another home at that time. Instead Housing for the Handicapped used the next two years to update existing programs.

Seeing the desperate need for the skills trainer position at Martha House, Housing for the Handicapped was fortunate in 1987 to get local help from United Way of Benton County to fund this position. The position brought back a tremendous need for clients' training for advancing their skill levels. Many developmentally disabled individuals were in a holding pattern waiting for a training home opening. A majority of the Martha House clients lost living skills that had taken years to teach. Housing for the Handicapped began to see clients growing in their skills and became hopeful that folks would move \ into more independent environments.

In 1988, Housing for the Handicapped felt that ready to expand again. Housing for the Handicapped looked at the Community Integration Project (CIP). CIP sounded ideal as it allowed Housing for the Handicapped to provide a much needed intensive training home for a few residents who badly needed that type of living situation and at the same time take in some new residents. In June, 1989, Duplex Home located at 1710 NW Division St opened. Housing for the Handicapped became more specialized by serving clients with mental illness and developmental disabilities. On par with history, to serve local clients off the wait list, three Benton County clients were moved off the Wait List and two clients were accepted from Fairview. The Duplex was the first attempt at serving five such individuals in a home and has proven to be a good project.

In the Spring of 1991, with an ever increasing client to staff ratio of 12 to 1, Housing for the Handicapped returned our Semi-Independent Living Program to Benton County. While the Semi-Independent Living Program (SILP) was a great model, it was seriously under funded from the State Mental Health Division. Our twelve clients from this program were transferred to the Semi-Independent Living Program operated by Benton County Mental Health. BCMHP has since converted some of those underfunded SILP individuals into Home Life's Supported Living Program.

Martha House continued to age over twenty years as a residential program. After two major remodeling projects, Martha House was put up for sale. It was on the market for five years and in the Spring of 1992 it sold. After a six month extended lease, clients moved into a Supported Living Model. Supported Living refers to the provision of individualized support services delivered in a personalized manner to persons who live in their home or apartment. Levels of support are based upon individual needs and preferences as defined by the individual's support team. Such services may include up to twenty-four (24) hours per day of paid supports provided in a manner that protects individual's dignity and assures quality of life. This model allows Home Life to provide improved quality of life services and allows maximum integration in the community.

While Martha House was in transition, repeated requests to the State Mental Health Division to convert clients from Martha House to Supported Living were not well received. The Supported Living Administrative Rules were in draft form and when the house sold, we acted quickly in moving ten clients into individual apartments. In the process, five other clients in the organization heard about Supported Living and wanted to move into that program as well. Housing for the Handicapped completed conversion project resulted in fifteen clients moving into the community.

During this conversion Housing for the Handicapped was proud of our accomplishments. A county wide Supported Living Task Force was set up that met every other week and included parents, board members, and staff from The Arc of Benton County and Housing as well as Benton County Mental Health case managers. Housing for the Handicapped was the third Supported Living Program in the State of Oregon to be pre-certified and 30 days later became the second Supported Living program to actually be certified for this new service element.

In January of 1993, Division Street House was renamed to Mumford House. With the sale of Martha House, Housing for the Handicapped felt a need to continue on the history and care and dedication that Martha Mumford had given and in so honoring her changed the name of the Division Street House to Mumford House. As if that change was not enough, in the Spring of 1993, Housing for the Handicapped, Inc. became Home Life, Inc. The Board of Directors listened closely to national as well as local issues related to the negative images that the word "handicapped" evoked. With three survey tools and numerous interviews with clients the name Home Life, Inc. was selected.

In 1995, Home Life was proud to be selected by the University of Oregon in the Mentorship Project. Home Life selected the Duplex Intensive Training Home as the program for participation in this project. In the first year the university helped the Duplex program learn new techniques and practices that allowed more thorough treatment implementation by staff in areas of professionalism, accountability in new data systems and an overall treatment process directly impacting positive behavior changes of clients with dual diagnosis. In the second year of the program, staff completed skill developments and were responsible for working with other programs within Home Life and in the community to improve the quality of services to individuals who require additional support due to concerning behaviors. Home Life was and remains very excited about the opportunity to work closely with Rob Horner, Rick Albin, Dan Baker and Dan Close at the University of Oregon Mentorship Program.

As Home Life entered the new millenium the company continued to evolve. Beginning in 2001 and ending in 2004 Home Life was able to obtain four wheelchair-lift busses in cooperation with Benton County Special Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In 2002 Home Life founded the Self-Directed Support Program which offered a menu of services to clients needing individualized services. In 2004 Home Life founded Hayes Street House which provides housing to three clients.

That same year, Home Life became an official member of the CoHo Housing Project. In 2005 Home Life began a fundraising program for the CoHo project. Later in 2005, long time Executive Director, Art Koebel retired; in honor of the work acomplished by Art during his tenure 25th Street House was renamed Koebel House.

Current goals for Home Life are to maintain and enhance what has been established over the last 25 years for services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Home Life has in mind to change Mumford House into a retirement senior program. This will allow Home Life to continue to serve clients as they age and see needs never anticipated with aging clients. Home Life sees a need for a specialized living environment for several clients with alzheimers and dementia. Home Life is looking forward to making positive changes gradually over the next few years at Mumford House, all the while, keeping in mind that the main objective is to provide quality, long term community living training to clients.

As for future needs, Home Life is interested in looking at better services for older clients. It is believed that there is a strong need to provide a more holistic retirement program. Home Life has succeeded in this effort with one client in the past and thinks this effort can be applied to other clients. It is anticipated as clients age, this type of arrangement will need to occur more frequently.

Another area currently being explored is Private Pay in Supported Living. Home Life continues to see the need as students graduate from high school to have a safe and supported place to live. Home Life is planning to expand the Supported Living Program to include more individuals who need this type of service. Growth and change have been a large part of Home LifeĀ¹s history and will continue to be a part of the future.

Much of the future of Home Life will be through the help of Volunteers and Donations. Anything is welcome and all is greatly appreciated. Find out how you can help out today.

2010s history here.