Nathan Burgess was a care provider at Jewish Family & Child Services in 2014, when he was asked by a parent there to apply for the role of in-house manager at Kehillah.
“I used to come here to take folks out in the community to do fun things,” said Nathan. “I met a parent here and she said they were looking for an on-site manager.”
That was eight years ago, and Nathan has been managing the apartments of Kehillah’s 14 residents and tending to their needs ever since.
“I love it here,” he said. “The residents are like your family. Some need a little more help than others, but we still love all of them.”
Kehillah Housing—a project of Cedar Sinai Park in collaboration with Jewish Family & Child Services—is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Its’ mission is to care for adults with development disabilities who need affordable housing and access to social services that support their ability to live independently in the community.
Ground broke on the facility in 2012, and opened a year later on September 1, 2013, with management through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There is little resident turnover at Kehillah, said Nathan—11 of the original residents remain–and the wait list is long, an indicator of the lack of housing for adults with special needs.
Current residents’ ages range from 30 to 50, said Nathan, and there are 10 males and four females. Most work at least one day a week at a job off site.
Nathan also works outside of Kehillah, full-time at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, supervising and training GED tutors and helping inmates with their training, often in the facility’s computer lab. Friday night through Sunday he is fully concentrated at Kehillah, coordinating cooking classes, movie nights, crafts, games, parties, and more.
“I try to get the residents out of their rooms to try new things,” said Nathan. “People love to eat and their favorite foods are pizza and tacos.”
Nathan grew up in southeast Portland near Mt. Tabor. His office is lined with space Lego’s and he confesses his Kehillah apartment has many more completed Lego sets, décor that is okay, he says for his new fiancée, Brandy.
The self-described “solid cleaner who is good with a plunger,” Nathan is supported by Cedar Sinai Park’s Facilities team on bigger fix-it projects.
“Everyone is really friendly here, and it’s a good community,” said Nathan. “We all get along, and I’m a big fan of the activities where people are enjoying themselves.”