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Vail Place to acquire Cabrini Transitional housing program

Courtesy of Vail Place
The Cabrini Transitional House building, which, as of July 1, will be re-named Vail House.

Vail Place, a 35-year-old Twin Cities nonprofit providing community-based recovery services for adults with serious mental illness, announced Monday that it will acquire Cabrini Transitional House, a 23-bed group residential housing program based at 1025 Sixth St. SE in Minneapolis.

The program, which is operated by Project for Pride in Living (PPL), will be renamed Vail House, and continue to provide transitional services for homeless adults living with mental illness and chemical dependency.

Vicky Couillard, Vail Place’s executive director, said that the acquisition will be virtually seamless, with no changes for residents or staff. Starting July 1, the 12-13 full- and part-time staff members at Cabrini Transitional House will transfer to Vail Place payroll.  

“We are keeping the program the same,” she said. “They do a wonderful job there. The program is really recovery focused, and there is a lot of loyalty and commitment to what they do. What’s really touched me is how so many people who started this program are still connected to it. I’ve seen the same thing with Vail Place, so I know there’s something powerful and beautiful about that.” 

Vail House will maintain Cabrini Transitional House’s blend of apartments — five single units mixed with double- or triple-occupancy options. Residency requirements will remain the same.

“A mix of men and women of all ages live in the building,” Couillard said. “Most have both a mental health and a chemical health diagnosis. They have to be homeless. The idea is they can live in the house for up to two years while they are getting back on their feet.”

Perfect match

Staff at Vail Place is already familiar with Cabrini Transitional House and the mix of services it provides. Couillard explained that Vail Place staff routinely refers their members to the program. Cabrini Transitional House has a good track record of helping people with serious mental illness and addiction problems break the cycle of homelessness, she added. 

“We’re really honored to carry on the tradition and the vision that the original founders had for how this program can serve a population of people that are homeless,” Couillard said. “There are a lot of things that Vail Place can bring as an agency to support this program. We are taking what’s already there, this amazing little jewel, and bringing it to the next level.” 

Earlier this year, when PPL leadership announced that the agency wanted to move away from running Cabrini Transitional House, Couillard said that she and Vail Place board members were excited to put their agency’s name forward.

Vicky Couillard
Courtesy of Vail Place
Vicky Couillard: “We are keeping the program the same. They do a wonderful job there.”

“The transitional house concept was a nice fit philosophically with Vail Place,” Couillard said. “Vail Place and another agency, a chemical health program, applied. In the end, they ended up selecting Vail Place. We were thrilled. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with PPL, so we know they run a good program.”

Vail Place already has experience running residential programs. The nonprofit operates its own apartment building and has staff that are located in two public housing facilities in Hopkins and St. Louis Park.

“We’ve been really committed to exploring and expanding those opportunities and building relationships with property management companies, and then this opportunity came forward,” Couillard said. “We were really exited about it.”

Rooted in the neighborhood

Cabrini Transitional House, founded by St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church. The church acquired the building, a former sorority house on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus, in 1985. The building is surrounded by student housing.

Coulliard said that the relationship between Cabrini Transitional House and its neighbors has been positive. “People know about it,” she said. “There are no issues. Neighbors are really friendly. The program has been in the same building since the beginning. There is great neighborhood involvement and a lot of community support.”

Part of that strong community support can be credited to Cabrini Transitional House staff, Coulliard said. “The staff there is just incredible. The people we’ve met are so impressive. They are clearly committed to helping building residents’ transition to independent living. I’m really impressed by the way they do that, and by the way they make that work within the community.”

Under Coulliard’s leadership, Vail Place has been in steady expansion mode. She says her nonprofit is not growing simply for the sake of growing, but rather because she and her colleagues see that there continues to be a need for a range of supportive services for adults with serious mental illness. And new supports for mental health care made available under the Affordable Care Act also means that there is more opportunity for people to get coverage for the integrative care they need.

“I think that need drives expansion,” Couillard said. “We are really looking at how we can meet people’s needs in new and innovative ways. This is an exciting time in health care. We want to take advantage of that.”  

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