If some early plans come to fruition, Drumm Farm will have a small apartment building for some of its young adults who are making the transition to self-sufficiency.
Builders Development Corp. has applied with the city of Independence to rezone the house site at 622 Crysler Avenue from moderate to high density, renovate the building and deed it to Drumm Farm to support adults age 18-22 who have aged out of the foster care system and are at risk for homelessness.
The abandoned two-story building, just south of the Crysler-Lexington intersection, had been built as a single-family home more than a century ago and was renovated into four separate apartments, possibly during the Great Depression, the non-profit BDC says in its application.
The rezoning received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission and is scheduled for a possible vote by the City Council on Monday. The rezoning is necessary because moderate density allows for just three dwelling units. The house on Crysler would be renovated into five apartments.
According to city documents, the house has been deemed a dangerous building but is not beyond repair. The driveway alongside the house and parking pad behind it would have to be repaved, as well.
Though optimistic about the plan, Drumm Farm CEO Brad Smith cautions there still are many more steps, such as the site plans, his own board approval and property transfer. But no big objections have surfaced.
“For us, if it works out, there's a lot of hurdles,” he said, “There's nothing in writing on our end.
“Obviously there's commitments we would be making, but I think our board's very open to it.”
If everything happens as planned, though, Drumm Farm will have a resource for its COMPASS program, which offers housing and a support network to help young adults transition to life on their own. Currently, Smith said, Drumm Farm houses six such young adults on its Lee's Summit Road campus. There are 45 foster children on campus, he said.
“Young folks come here and they do well, but it's a big jump to go from high school and, 'Now you're on your own,'” Smith said. Services help the young adults navigate post-secondary education routes, enter the job market and find their next place to live, among other things.
From his time directing family services for the Independence School District before he took the reins of Drumm Farm, Smith knows the eventual need for such a program. Some of Drumm's residents had been referrals from ISD.
“The big thing we've seen is young people come here, they're 17 or 18 years old, they finish high school, and there's some post-secondary routes. We've got some in college, Smith said. “But when you have nothing and don't have anyone, getting money for a car or for a security deposit can be a big challenge.
“Drumm Farm is the triage center, and this would be the polishing center.”
Smith said the residents, who would be moving to the Crysler house from Drumm Farm, would pay some rent, and they likely would stay just a year or two.
Smith makes a point that the building would not be a group home, and the residents would have no criminal backgrounds. Each apartment would have its own bathroom, appliances, etc., and Drumm Farm also would keep a small office in the building for its support services.
“They're not living together at all,” Smith said. “They live in their individual spaces.
“We're going to be good neighbors.”