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Stewart Ave. targeted for recovery housing

Senior mentors and families recovering from substance abuse issues could become helpful neighbors under a pilot project proposed on Stewart Avenue.

OnTrack Inc. wants to build a $6.8 million, 46-unit apartment complex at 1947 Stewart Ave. that could become the first in the area where seniors and families live side by side.

"It rounds off our housing options to keep families safely together and kids out of foster care facilities," said Rita Sullivan of OnTrack.

The Stewart Street project is a smaller version of a $28 million "Generations" complex that OnTrack wanted to build in east Medford in 2008, but which raised protests from neighbors.

The idea is patterned after Generations of Hope in Rantoul, Ill., a community built on a former air force base that has been featured on television and in The New York Times.

Sullivan said most of the dollars to pay for the Stewart project, called Mountain Vista Apartments, will come from the federal government. However, OnTrack is in competition for those dollars with other agencies around the state.

Last Thursday, Medford City Council lent its support for the project to help secure the federal money.

Sullivan said she hoped the Mountain Vista project would show the community that the idea works before it attempts to pursue the Generations project again.

She said the mix of seniors and families at Mountain Vista would be under close, round-the-clock supervision.

She also said she hopes the Stewart location won't raise the same objections as the east Medford proposal, because OnTrack already has a 49-unit apartment complex next door to Mountain Vista.

Sullivan said the individuals who would live at the apartment complex already will have undergone a treatment program that includes testing and counseling.

Case managers and others would closely scrutinize the residents to make sure they are following the rules.

Rents would vary depending on income. For a one-bedroom apartment, the rent would be $247 to $428 for someone with yearly income between $11,100 and $18,500 for one person. For a three-bedroom apartment, rent would vary from $601 to $663 for income ranging from $14,300 to $23,850 for a three-family household.

Dave Toler, director of Senior and Disability Services for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, said a 2013 AARP survey showed seniors in this area wanted more opportunities to mix with other generations.

"In this valley, everybody is kind of segregated in terms of age a lot of times," he said.

Toler said RVCOG supports the Mountain Vista project and believes it can be beneficial to people recovering from substance abuse, their children and seniors.

"It creates a lot of self esteem when you are mentoring young people," Toler said.

It can also help children.

"Sometimes someone that isn't mom and dad — you can talk to them," he said. "Sometimes it's easier to help someone that isn't mom and dad."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.