AURORA | Week in and week out, the 17 apartments at Brent’s Place are at capacity.
So much so that when the family of one child undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital is discharged and heads home, another quickly takes their place.
“We’re full,” Brent’s Place board member Mike Evans said. “We’re always full.”
Demand is so great that the nonprofit, which specializes in housing children with compromised immune systems and their families while they get treatment, estimates it can only serve about 40 percent of the families that seek their specialized brand of help.
Juan Clark, a leukemia patient and Brent's Place resident, grabs his shovel for the groundbreaking for Brent's Place Too on Thursday May 05, 2016 at 16th and Oswego. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Juan Clark, center, a leukemia patient and Brent's Place resident, joins in the groundbreaking for Brent's Place Too next to Sean Meyerhoffer, executive director, and Linda Eley, founder on Thursday May 05, 2016 at 16th and Oswego. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
From left, Brent's Place founders Donn Eley, Linda Eley and their daughter DeAnn Noyes stand at the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony for Brent's Place Too on Thursday May 05, 2016 at 16th and Oswego. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Juan Clark a leukemia patient and Brent's Place resident stands at the back during a grandbreaking ceremony for Brent's Place Too on Thursday May 05, 2016 at 16th and Oswego. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
That won’t change completely next summer when the new Brent’s Place Too opens adjacent to the current location on East 16th Avenue near Peoria Street, but the 17 additional apartments will certainly help.
Rebekah Wells, development director at Brent’s Place, said when the new apartments open — hopefully sometime around June 2017 — she hopes they can serve close to 80 percent of the families that need their help.
“It’s just imperative that we get this built as soon as we can,” she said at least week’s groundbreaking for the new building.
The new building will be close to a mirror image of Brent’s current Aurora location, with 17 similar apartments for patients and their families.
Wells said the cost of the project will likely come to close to $8 million.
So far, Brent’s Place has raised about $6 million of that, Wells said. That’s enough to get the project started, but she said they are still working to raise the rest of the money to furnish the apartments and get the building ready for patients to arrive next summer.
“We’re going ahead with groundbreaking because the need is so important right now,” she said.
Wells said the apartments in the original building and those in the second building are made without carpet and feature surfaces that are easy to clean. That’s crucial, she said, because the patients there need to be in especially clean environments because of their illnesses.
The other option for families who travel to Aurora or Denver to seek specialized care is to stay in a hotel, but Wells said that isn’t ideal.
“At a hotel, you just can’t control the cleanliness the way you need to,” she said.
In many cases, families end up staying at the hospital more than they would otherwise like to.
Donn Eley, who founded Brent’s Place with his wife, Linda, after their son, Brent, died following a battle with cancer, said there is a clear need for these type of facilities, but there still aren’t enough of them.
“Virtually no one else takes that niche,” he said.