Sunrise Apartments: Gaining Independence

Sunrise Apartments, tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood in southeast Aberdeen, was built to blend in with the neighborhood of residential houses and small apartment buildings. But for the 16 people who live there, it's so much more. Sunrise Apartments is operated by Aspire Inc., a community support provider that helps adults with intellectual disabilities maintain the highest possible level of independence.

The building consists of eight two-bedroom apartments. Residents buy their own groceries and cook their own meals in the building's shared kitchen. Aspire staff is available to help the residents with laundry, cooking, cleaning, balancing checkbooks and other tasks.

Jennifer Gray, Executive Director of Aspire Inc., said their goal is for the residents to learn life skills that will allow them to move into their own apartments. "It's kind of a stepping stone," Gray said. Between 80 to 90 Aspire Inc. clients have since transitioned into apartments and are living independently in the community.

Aspire Inc. has another complex in Aberdeen that offers hands-on residential services to six residents, with staff providing 24-hour care. The residents of the Aldrich Street facility have significant disabilities. "Each person is different, but most need full-time services," stated Gray. "We help them be as independent as they can."

Both buildings were constructed in the early 1980s, financed initially by SDHDA. SDHDA also provides Housing Assistance Payments for the properties. Gray credits SDHDA in part for the good condition of the apartments. "South Dakota Housing has been great to work with as far as assistance for these properties," she said.