The Virginia Municipal League is awarding the City of Falls Church its “Community Health” Innovation Award in recognition of the Miller House, a group home for adults with disabilities in the City, at the VML’s annual conference in October.
According to the VML, the organization received more than 50 entries from which judges selected one winner in each of six categories: Environmental Quality, Communications, Economic Development, Public Safety, Working With Youth and Community Health.
Announcing the winners of the awards, the VML writes of Falls Church:
“Since 1973, the City of Falls Church had owned a parcel of land with a house donated by the Miller family which was used as a group home for adults with disabilities. In recent years, however, the ‘Miller House’ has stood vacant and fallen into disrepair. An inspection by city staff concluded that it needed to be demolished. But just because the original group home was unfit for habitation did not mean that there wasn’t a need in the community for such a place. In fact, many parents of adult children with disabilities had contacted city staff with the concern that they were getting too old to properly care for their children.
“Lacking funds to establish a new group home on the site, the city awarded Community Havens, Inc., the property affiliate of CRi (a non-profit organization providing quality services to help empower individuals with disabilities and mental health needs) with the deed to the property for $1.00 with a restrictive covenant on the use of the land to design, construct and deliver services for the operation of a group home. Many community partners worked together to make the new ‘Miller House’ group home a reality. Today, the Miller House is home to five young adults with disabilities, three of whom have never lived outside of their family’s homes. This is a fantastic example of how a city can meet the specific needs of a segment of its residents using existing resources.”
In a statement announcing the award, Falls Church Deputy Director of Human Services and Miller House project manager Dana Lewis said “We are honored by this recognition. Miller House is the result of a productive collaboration between the local government and a private organization, all with the goal of helping adults gain independence. I am proud we were about to be a part of it.”
According to the VML, the Community Health category includes “building healthy community environments through active lifestyle programs, nutrition education and improving access to healthier food choices.”
Last year, Falls Church’s composting program won both the Environmental Quality award as well as the VML’s top honor, the President’s Award.