A Groundbreaking Construction Project

A Groundbreaking Construction Project

Construction students will build house for adults with disabilities

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

It’s always been crystal clear.

Students in Residential Building Construction enter the technical diploma program knowing they will learn and sharpen their skills by building a single-family house from the studs up.

But this spring things changed a bit and for the first time, students will build a four-bedroom, fully accessible home for four adults with disabilities in Neenah.

The new project is being done at the request of Covey, which provides respite care and disability services in the Fox Valley. In conjunction with Winnebago County, the two have been working together to address a growing demand in the area for supportive housing. They eventually reached out to Fox Valley Technical College to join the effort.

“Knowing their mission and who is going to live here, it just makes it more special and even a little more incentive,” says Paul Lewandowski, department chair for Residential Building Construction. “A new house or an extensive remodel project is what we need to teach our students the true meaning of being a carpenter.”

To make this house accessible, students will build wider hallways and door frames, accessible handles and a roll-in shower to accommodate a wheelchair. Countertops will be lower and grab bars will give residents additional mobility support around the house. The home should be finished by next spring.

In addition, students are putting the finishing touches on the residential construction they started in 2022 and their latest home will go on the market in June. While not involved in the 2023-24 project with Covey, the FVTC Foundation consistently serves as the financing arm for these residential building projects.

"The Foundation purchases a lot, funds the construction costs, and once completed, sells the home at market rates. The proceeds go back into the program to build future homes and provide scholarships to students," explains Becky Boulanger, director of the FVTC Foundation. "While the Foundation won't be involved in the 2023-24 project with Covey, we are delighted that FVTC can partner with a local nonprofit and provide housing for individuals with disabilities who are in need. What a great opportunity for FVTC students to learn and have a positive impact on the community."

Local media coverage of the new construction project:

FOX11: New housing project to provide independence for people with disabilities in Fox Valley
Oshkosh Herald: Covey Housing project teams up county, FVTC (p. 6)