Representatives from the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend participate in the official groundbreaking event alongside Life Enrichment Options board members. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Representatives from the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend participate in the official groundbreaking event alongside Life Enrichment Options board members. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

LEO breaks ground on independent living home in Snoqualmie

Life Enrichment Options expands housing for people with developmental disabilities to Snoqualmie

After high school, options for those with developmental disabilities can be limited. The nonprofit Life Enrichment Options is hoping to change that with the expansion of its independent living program into downtown Snoqualmie.

On Wednesday, May 1, members of Life Enrichment Options’s (LEO) board of directors, families, project staff and the mayors of both Snoqualmie and North Bend attended a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of LEO’s fourth independent living house and the first of its kind in the Valley.

The house will be known as the “Nancy Whitaker House,” named after former Encompass president and 20-year LEO board member Nancy Whitaker. Purchased in 2016 and cleared of the previous structure in 2017, the property sits on 384th Avenue in downtown Snoqualmie. The three other Issaquah homes that LEO has built are also named after influential community and board members.

LEO is a nonprofit with the goal of providing housing, education, recreation and to facilitate employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Its independent living program sets up a house for approximately five residents run by a live-in care provider. The first house was built in 2001 in Issaquah.

“There is a great need because there are very few options for people with developmental disabilities as they get older, and the majority of the folks in our community are living at home with their parents,” Whitaker said. “As they age, parents age. We wanted to build homes so they could have a place to live before a crisis occurs.”

There are currently three houses actively running the program in Issaquah, each with five residents and one care provider. The care provider and their family lives on the second floor while residents with disabilities live on the first floor.

The goal of the program is provide adults with disabilities the ability to live independently from their families and become part of their respective communities through volunteer activities or by working jobs either in the city or around the region.

Jiff Searing, LEO board chair for housing, said while the groundbreaking ceremony was held in May, work has already begun on the foundation. The back-filling process in order to meet FEMA floodplain requirements has been complete, and are work is underway to frame the building.

The total cost of construction is estimated at $600,000, Searing said. Much of the work has been completed thanks to donations, and reduced cost deals with subcontractors. Construction company Polygon Northwest has helped by connecting LEO with subcontractors, and the company has given LEO favorable pricing on elements of construction.

“Without those guys, it just doesn’t happen,” he said. “I can’t say enough about Polygon and the designers and the subs they bring to bear to do it inexpensively as they can.”

Once complete, the house must be licensed as an Adult Family Home to perform its intended purpose. That license, Searing said, will allow residents to stay as long as they want.

“The need is huge… there are 5,000 adults with disabilities living at home with aging parents. It’s not sustainable — just a medical crisis and those individuals would be at risk,” he said. “The good thing about the model, once they are moved in they are here for life potentially. This is the same license for the elderly.”

The house is expected to wrap up construction this fall with residents moving in shortly thereafter.

For more information, visit lifeenrichmentoptions.org.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

The 5th Legislative District includes Snoqualmie, North Bend, Issaquah, Renton and Maple Valley. Courtesy image
5th District candidates talk policing, the economy and mental health

The SnoValley Chamber of Commerce held a candidates forum on Oct. 22.

North Bend could have its own marijuana store soon.
North Bend pot shop gets public hearing on Nov. 17

A proposal from a private developer seeking to build a marijuana store… Continue reading

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photo
A 212-unit development is slated for the Dahlgren property, more commonly known as the “mule pasture.”
North Bend’s water war heats up as construction is set to begin

Who gets to supply water to a 212-unit housing complex is at the heart of the skirmish.

In this November 2019 photo, Lucy Adams, Tim Takechi, Craig Ewing and Renee Lystad rehearse for VCS's production of "A Christmas Carol." File photo
Valley Center Stage eyes holiday production, new location

The community theater is hoping to put on a virtual Christmas production this year.

Homeless man lying on the bench. File photo
Cities opting out of county homelessness tax took $17 million with them

It leaves the county with roughly $50 million a year to bond against.

In this February 2020 photo, flood waters inundate Carnation and close Tolt Hill Road. File photo
Flood projects in the valley

Highlights from the list of improvements.

Some cool deer near Preston on Oct. 6. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
News around the Valley: Ballots, oil, weather, water

Voters in the Snoqualmie Valley should have received their ballots for the election.

Most Read