Last week, Senator Norment introduced an amendment to the Governor’s budget (SB 30) that sets aside Parcel C (79 acres) at Eastern State for Hope Family Village Corporation.

Specifically, the amendment states:
“R.  The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in conjunction with the Department of General Services shall lease, for one dollar, Parcel C of the Eastern State Hospital property to the Hope Family Village Corporation for the development of a community project that serves as a residence for 25 families impacted by a member with serious mental illness. The long-term lease shall be for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.”
For Hope Family Village, this is a major milestone. The founding families, our board, our planning committee members, and a growing number of stakeholders all realize the important need for the creation of a community of acceptance. A place where neighbors help neighbors. Families are the backbone, the infrastructure, of true care. If we create a place where we take care of caregivers, we take care of our loved ones.

Our first design will be 25 families. We will feature a common house at the community’s hub, where residents connect with one another socially and have the opportunity to dine together. The community’s design will be tranquil and cater to pedestrians; maximize open space; and employ gardens.  To start, we will feature two primary options, one for families, where their loved ones live with them. The second will be a Fairweather Lodge for people who are in recovery, who live together in a home, operated on the specific principles and practices. In addition, because we will be an inclusive community, one of acceptance of serious mental illness as a human condition, we expect clinicians, students studying for degrees in family counseling will want to live in the village. They will be similarly welcomed.

Much of our present work has resulted from a very positive relationship with the College of William and Mary. For two years, we have been engaged with Mason Business School and recently have have begun to work with the W&M Law School. As we develop, we will likely find other opportunities to engage with other W&M departments and Virginia state education institutions.