About Build House
The Build House is an innovative community based home in Berkeley for children and teens with significant developmental disabilities. We believe that every person, regardless of ability, has the right to make choices in their lives. We model an alternative to institutional care.
The Build House came about as a collaboration between family members of young people with developmental disabilities, professionals who serve them, and interested community members. We received our 501(c)3 designation in 1997. After almost 10 years of start up fundraising and grass roots organizing, we opened our doors in 2001. We worked with a local architect, himself a person with a disability, to retrofit a 1880’s West Berkeley Victorian cottage into a universally accessible home for 6 residents, complete with 2 full wheelchair access restrooms.
Who We Serve
All our residents come from very low income backgrounds and historically minority populations in the East Bay: several have single parents, elderly parents, or are wards of the court. Our children and young adults are primarily non-verbal with significant developmental delays, including impaired vision, hearing, and behavioral and emotional challenges. All also have health conditions that include paralysis, spastic quadriplegia and seizure disorders that require 24 hour trained care and monitoring. Despite their challenging disabilities, Build’s residents are commonly seen shopping on 4 St, using the Berkeley public library, swimming at Berkeley pools and the YMCA, eating at local restaurants, seeing movies, and generally utilizing community resources and enjoying the various activities available in our wonderful city.
Since opening, we have overcome numerous challenges as our state continues to place low priority on care for people with disabilities. Build House is primarily funded by Medi-Cal, however, in recent years, budget cut after budget cut has forced us to rely even more heavily on fundraising. Since we cannot afford a professional development director, volunteer board members are responsible for raising funds. Last year, we raised an astounding $64,000 in private donations and grants, and secured a $15,000 grant from CDBG, federal block grant money (the City of Berkeley). We have been able to grow and maintain our facility while many private facilities are closing their doors. And we have continued to provide ever changing care to our youth as they transition to adulthood- adapting and increasing staff ratios, forming relationships with UC Berkeley to grow our volunteer program and help with fundraising, and finding creative solutions to the long standing problem of caring for our most needy with the least amount of resources developed by the state upon their behalf.
Currently, we are still the only East Bay non-profit providing residential care as a licensed Intermediate Care Facility-Developmentally Disabled Habilitative ICF-DDH (a State of California Dept. of Health Services designation.) Our organization’s 5 year plan to open a second home for adults has been delayed by the current economic crisis, however, we are looking forward to growing our program and giving more children and adults (and their families) with severe developmental disabilities the option to direct their own life and live freely in their own community.