I pulled into Miss Darla’s driveway and gave a soft knock on the door to her apartment. Her voice drifted up the stairs, telling me to come on in. I opened the door, and her dog scurried past me out into the yard. I spent a few minutes chasing him around before I was able to scoop him into my arms and carry him down to the basement with me .At the bottom of the steep stairs, I got a glimpse into the life of one of CLDI’s senior residents. Though I insisted she need not move, Miss Darla sat up in bed and made her way to the recliner in her living room. She then officially introduced me to her dog, Little Bear and graciously shared a bit about her life and how she came to be a CLDI tenant.
After losing the lease on the trailer Miss Darla had rented in Lockwood for nine and a half years, she found herself homeless. Her poor credit history and a myriad of health issues made for an extremely challenging housing search—until she connected with Koinonia Management Company (KMC), CLDI’s property management organization. KMC was soon able to find Miss Darla a 2-bedroom basement apartment of her own. Miss Darla shared how CLDI often would bring her boxes from the Food Bank, and each year she looked forward to getting a Christmas gift from the KMC team. “Can you believe a landlord would do that?”
Unfortunately, Miss Darla’s health issues have become complex these past few years, and she is now unable to navigate the stairs very well on her own. I noted the electric wheelchair across the room from me. It seemed to almost make a mockery out of the situation because, without someone to carry it up the stairs, the chair was stripped of its ability to help Miss Darla truly move about with autonomy. Miss Darla’s sense of isolation was palpable as she shared about her reliance on a primary care provider who comes a few hours each day, and how her outings outside are mostly to doctor appointments.
We know you’ve heard us talk a lot about ADA housing this past year, and Miss Darla is just one of the reasons why we believe the Mosaic Senior Cottages will be such a vital addition to our South Side community. These six new ADA-accessible apartments, nestled behind Rail//Line Coffee, are much more than an increase in housing stock. These apartments are giving seniors a chance to age with dignity, in a community with others in a similar life stage. I asked Miss Darla what excited her most about the move to Mosaic, and she answered, “Freedom! And the opportunity to take Little Bear for walks in my electric wheelchair!” Mosaic is giving Miss Darla a new home and a new hope for her life in her senior years. Thank you for your partnership in helping us build a stronger, safer, more connected community in Billings.