Rockville apartment building breaks down barriers for renters with disabilities

Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — A new apartment building is providing opportunities for independent living to low-income renters and renters with disabilities.

Rockville’s new Main Street Apartments aim to provide a safe place to live and an inclusive community for vulnerable populations in Montgomery County.

The 70-unit apartment building sits at 50 Monroe Street in Rockville Town Center, between the Montgomery County Courthouse and the Rockville Metro station. Residents began moving in just over one month ago.

The building is also home to common areas that will be used for events and activities, along with the Soulfull Cafe, which employs workers of all abilities.

Main Street Connect’s founder, Jillian Copeland, was inspired to create a community like Main Street Apartments because of her experiences caring for her son, Nicol, who has medical and special needs. At 21 years old, he’s now living independently in one of Main Street’s units.

“My son, Nicol, who was only supposed to stay here one night a week as we transitioned him into independent living, is now here every night and will not sleep at home. It’s been two weeks already,” said Copeland. “Watching others and living it ourselves is just really deep. I feel a lot of pride and a lot of happiness. I see other parents and families there and we’re all like, ‘Wow, is this real?'”

Copeland has three other sons, all in their late teens and twenties, and it’s been a time of change and transition for their family. Each of her four sons has now moved out of their family home.

“Honestly, I never thought I’d be an empty nester,” said Copeland. “My second son, Jack, left to go back to New York on Sunday. Before he left, we got teary-eyed, and he said, ‘This is the first time I haven’t had to worry about Nicol. He’s in a really good place.'”

Copeland says there’s a big emphasis on safety and security for residents. Representatives from Montgomery County Police along with Fire and Rescue came out to show residents what to do in an emergency and go over exit plans.

Main Street offers independent living classes to residents to teach the importance of skills like problem-solving. Each week, they offer a community walk-through to help residents get acclimated to the area and learn walking routes to nearby places like pharmacies and grocery stores.

The complex also wants to keep people connected, so they’re hosting virtual and limited in-person community events during the pandemic.

With the help of Plume and Positron along with the Montgomery County government, Main Street will offer free Wi-Fi internet access to residents to reduce the burden of utility costs.

“Affordable access to the internet is crucial and the need for a safe and reliable connection is more important than it has ever been,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, in a statement. “We believe that the internet should be accessible for everyone and we are happy to be working with Main Street Connect to offer it to their residents, many of whom depend on the internet to work, learn and grow.”

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