Helping the community: Odyssey House undergoing renovations

Nathan Law

  The Odyssey House, originally built in the 1940s, is getting a long deserved make over thanks to a Community Development Block Grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Purchased by Nevada County in the 1970s, Odyssey House, in Nevada City, provides a residential program to […]

 

The Odyssey House, originally built in the 1940s, is getting a long deserved make over thanks to a Community Development Block Grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Purchased by Nevada County in the 1970s, Odyssey House, in Nevada City, provides a residential program to support severely mentally ill adults transition to more independent living situations, said Phebe Bell, Nevada County Behavioral Health director. Construction on a rehabilitated facility will nearly double its capacity to more than 6,000 square feet.

The project cost is around $3 million.



“We’re excited about the project,” said Bell. “They framed it and are adding plywood, but they tore out the old foundation so it’s essentially a new building.”

The former building accommodated eight to 10 clients.



“Many of the clients come from longer psychiatric stays at a hospital,” said Bell. “We provide therapeutic support to enable clients to (eventually) live in the community.”

 

Phebe Bell, Nevada County Behavioral Health director

Staff includes licensed medical professionals, as well as master of social work staff who are on duty 24/7. Clients will learn daily social life skills, time and money management and, if appropriate, job acquisition skills.

“A lot of the clients are significantly impaired,” said Bell. “So a job might be further down the road. Sometimes it’s necessary to stabilize a person first.”

For some, they may proceed to an assisted living facility where a property manager can check in on a client regularly. Or clients could move in with parents, siblings or adult children and when capable obtain an apartment or house on their own. Typically, a stay at Odyssey House is under a year.

“Behavioral Health works with clients to find housing, so they can be successful in housing,” said Bell. ”They can learn how to shop for food and how to prepare food safely.”

FUNDING

Mike Dent, county director of Housing and Child Support Services, said the department applied for the funding in 2017 and the county was awarded $3.196 million in July 2018. Construction began in October.

“We’re shooting for August 28 (for completion), but it’s a moving target because of the pandemic’s impact on the construction supply chain,” said Dent.

Despite the project being a remodel, contractors decided it is better to build a new foundation.

“Although it had ramps we made it more (Americans with Disabilities Act) compatible,” explained Dent. “It helped with the overall design and created a little more room (parking and other amenities).”

Dent said the old building was a single-family home and had a residential, rather than a commercial, kitchen. The new building provides a better environment, and the program instills advanced life skills for a more autonomous existence.

This renovation increases space by 3,341 square feet. It replaces the roof, siding, and windows, while relocating current and handicap parking. It improves the building entrance, adds a commercial grade kitchen, laundry, ADA-compliant restrooms, therapy areas and client living quarters.

But it is not meant to be a permanent residence for clients. “It’s a starting point,” said Dent. “It’s an opportunity for self-reliance. We’re excited. It enhances our community with the services it provides.”

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at [email protected]

Mike Dent, county director of Housing and Child Support Services

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