Center For Independent Futures and M&L Housing Development: An Update

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Hello everyone!

As many of you may know from our social media feeds,@Center for Independent Futures (CIF) and M&L Special Needs Planning recently hosted a community development training session last week. The session, called the New Futures Initiative™ training, took place June 5th and 6th.

In case you are new to this blog, and are unaware of the strides that M&L has taken towards developing communities for individuals with special needs in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, please visit the Blog section of our website for a chronological perspective of our progress. You will also find blogs that focus on and provide a detailed description of CIF, complete with a description of their New Futures Initiatives Community Living Options. To read these blogs, please click here.

For today, however, we will provide you with a brief summary of CIF and their New Futures Initiative™, share with you the progress M&L and CIF have made so far with our special needs community development, and briefly outline how we plan to proceed in the near future. We hope that this blog will inspire you to become involved and join our project, or to begin plans to develop communities for individuals with disabilities in your own community.

Center For Independent Futures – What is it?

The staff of M&L first introduced our clients and readers to CIF in July of last year, when we published an interview with co-founder and then Executive Director Jane Doyle. In this interview, Jane shared with us the exciting story of how CIF was founded, and talked us through the inspirational process that led to the growth and development of CIF from a grass roots movement to the incredible organization it is today.

At its core, CIF is a non-profit organization that “helps individuals with disabilities realize full lives, according to their hopes and dreams.[i] There is much to admire about this organization, but when M&L staff first began to learn about CIF and the services that the organization provides, we were fascinated by a number of different facts: first of all, CIF operates independently of state and federal funding. Secondly, in addition to a number of other services that CIF provides, the organization offers housing supports and services for individuals with disabilities under their Community Living Option™ (CLO) residences. Thirdly, not only does CIF offer these housing services, they also offer a training program that helps other individuals with special needs, their families, and organizations from across the United States with the support and tools necessary to create their own independent housing model for individuals with special needs – and this training program is called the New Futures Initiative.

What is the New Futures Initiative?

As mentioned, CIF offers housing services and supports to individuals with disabilities in two ways: first, they provide housing options for individuals with disabilities, called Community Living Option Residences™ (CLO). These housing options are developed according to the CIF’s Philosophy of Support, which focuses on community building and the individual’s right to choice, experience, responsibility, and relationships. In the CLO™ housing model structure, each resident pays his or her own rent, utilities, expenses, and support services costs –  CIF acts as a liaison and develops a memorandum of understanding between the resident and the landlord. Each CLO residence is grounded in “community building, while fostering individual choice and exploration.” The CLO also provides on-site support and staff to help residents with emergencies, and also with community building and developing independent living skills.

The second housing service/support that CIF provides is the New Futures Initiative™.

In a nutshell, the New Futures Initiative™ is a training program  that offers training and support to individuals with disabilities, their families, and special needs organization. This training and support has been developed to teach interested parties how to replicate CIF’s Community Option Living™ residences in their own states, neighborhoods, and communities. The New Futures Initiatives™ offers a series of workshops, materials and onsite consultations – they help participants “learn about organizational structure, real estate, public benefits, building community, housing, and support for individuals with disabilities.[ii]

To learn more about the New Futures Initiative™ training, please click here.

M&L and Special Needs Community Development So Far

To date, M&L staff, CIF, our first core group of families, and community partners have made great strides towards developing communities for individuals with special needs in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

For those of you interested, here is a brief timeline of our progress:

– In October of last year, M&L first hosted a community planning seminar with CIF for interested families in the area. That seminar led to the creation of our first core group in Montgomery County – five families who have committed to joining the process to create communities for their loved ones with disabilities.

-In November of last year, M&L launched its very own Independent Living Program and Housing Project database, an online resource for families with special needs to access information on special needs community building programs and other information from across the United States. This one of a kind database is available to users via subscription, and can offer valuable access to current and reliable information on more than 800 housing and community building programs, including costs, eligibility, locations, and contact info. Click here for more info.

– In February of this year, M&L and this core group travelled to Evanston, Illinois to participate in the first New Futures Initiative™ training workshop, days 1 and 2, where we learned about the core values behind the CLO housing model development – community, choice, assessment, person centered planning, family, and much more.

– In February of this year, M&L was invited to be the new East Coast Representative of CIF. We happily accepted, and a result, will be sharing the New Futures Initiative™ to teach others how to create the Community Living Options™ in our area.

– Last week, June 5th and 6th M&L and the core families attended the second CIF New Futures Initiative™ training session (day 3 and 4 of the program), in which we made a number of strides towards deciding community and housing criteria, the organization and structure of the community, the support criteria, and fundraising, as well as progressed in planning in a number of other areas related to the community development. This second part of the training took place at M&L’s offices in Washington DC.

Our Future Plans for Community Development

At M&L, we would like to stress that creating communities for individuals with special needs is a process – it can be complicated, time consuming, and at times stressful. Ultimately, however, there is nothing more rewarding than finding the perfect home life for your child with special needs surrounded by a community incorporating organic supports and associations ready to step in and help along the way. Using this process ensures we are doing all we can to help our young adult with disabilities achieve a successful, happy, rewarding future. This is about person centered planning using circles of supports that fulfill our children’s hopes and dreams.

As you can see from the above timeline, our community development team has made an incredible amount of progress in this process – and we aren’t slowing down! In July, M&L is hosting another workshop, titled Housing Update and New Core Groups for Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. In this workshop, we will share more information regarding M&L’s efforts and progress in developing special needs communities, and provide an update on how M&L is facilitating the first core group that is developing communities in Montgomery County, using the New Futures Initiative™ training. We will also share how we plan to create more core groups and integrate more families in Maryland and Washington, D.C. into this process. Lastly, the five families from the original core group will be present at this seminar to share their experiences and describe the process of developing these communities so far. If you are interested in this project, please join us and listen to this valuable information.

To see our seminar description in full or to register, please click here.

Would You Like More Information?

Here at M&L, we are always available if you would like to access more information, or have a question about community development or any of the services we offer to individuals with special needs and their families. Please do not hesitate to send us an email, call us, or contact us via one of our social media outlets and we will respond as quickly as well can. In addition, we recently release a blog asking for topic suggestions and questions – click here to learn how you can submit a question that we will address in a future blog.

Thank you so much for dropping by today! We hope you are inspired by our mission to develop communities for individuals with special needs in Washington, D.C. and Maryland – and if you aren’t already involved, we hope to see you at our seminar in July. Have a great weekend!


[i] http://www.independentfutures.com/Default.aspx

[ii] http://www.independentfutures.com/Default.aspx?tabid=263

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