Integrated, Sustainable and Inclusive Community Housing for the Washington DC Area: An Update

 July 31, 2014
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, July 31st 2014

Hello everyone!

Last week in our blog, we briefly mentioned our excitement about the success of our community housing update seminar, titled “Integrated, Sustainable and Inclusive Community Housing for the Washington, D.C. area.” The workshop took place on July 23rd at the Treatment and Learning Center in Maryland, and we are proud to say that we ended up with a full house! In addition to being ecstatic to share our vision for inclusive, community living with an entirely new audience, we also feel we achieved another one of our goals – providing families who are currently searching for living options for their children with special needs with a new set of options and possibilities for independent living. Overall, we are extremely pleased with the outcome of the seminar – if you attended this presentation and would like any more information, please do not hesitate to contact us! As well, follow up comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

In addition to “plugging” the success of our workshop, we also promised to provide those who may not have attended (but are still interested in creating community living models) with an update as to what was covered, and some information about what M&L and Center For Independent Futures (CIF) is trying to achieve with this community development project. So, if you are interested in learning more, please stay tuned as we share with you a little bit of our presentation, and brief you as to the progress we have made so far with developing independent living in the Washington, D.C. area.

Seminar Summary
Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.
-David Spangler

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are already aware of our commitment to providing integrated, community-based, person-centered independent living options for individuals with disabilities. This commitment comes from personal and professional experience with trying to find independent living options for adults with disabilities, and from the anxieties that a parent experiences as he or she contemplates what will happen to their adult children with disabilities after they are gone, or no longer able to provide care for that individual. In a nut shell, the entire message of the seminar revolved around that goal – to get our children with disabilities into long-term, full-life, inclusive, and sustainable communities for individuals with disabilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

During the presentation, M&L founder and owner Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC, covered topics such as the importance of community living, what exactly it means to create a community partnership, and how the group of core families (families that have committed to partnering with each other, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC and Center for Independent Futures to create this community living model) plan to move forward with organizing and create this community living model. She also introduced CIF, explained their New Futures Initiative™ works, and discussed exactly how CIF provides training to the core families. It is important to note that it is this training that will provide the information and guidance necessary to replicate the Community Living Option™ model in other neighborhoods and communities.

Lastly, the seminar included presentations from the members of the core group of families, and an explanation of why these core families decided to begin this revolutionary community development project in Maryland, and how their journey with creating this community living model has progressed.

Building Community Partnerships & the Importance of Community

The staff of M&L has spent many hours examining and researching various independent living options for individuals with disabilities from across the United States. What we have found, unanimously, is that the independent living programs and housing options that seem to thrive, and are populated by happy, successful adults, are the ones that rely heavily on community involvement, and place a huge importance on engaging residents and helping them with their social and recreational interactions and activities.

As we stressed in our presentation, the community partnerships we build now will provide us with the strength and support to go forward with this project, and will also be the building blocks of the community that our children with disabilities will enjoy after they have moved in. Together, we have more resources and developing these community partnerships can bring us all together building networks that support developing community options and the daily support needed to ensure full lives in the community and sustain the circles of support.

CIF, New Futures Initiative™ and Community Living Option™

Here at M&L, we have published many blogs that focus on Center for Independent Futures, and the incredible work they are doing with housing in Evanston, Illinois, and the rest of the United States through their New Futures Initiative™. For a more detailed explanation of this organization and the services they provide, please click here to access our blog archive on the topic. For today’s purposes, however, we will just briefly touch on what the CIF is, how they provide independent living through their Community Living Option™ residences, and how their New Futures Initiative has paved the way to replicating the Community Living Option™ residences across the country.

The CIF is a non-profit organization in Evanston, Illinois, that offers a number of services to individuals with disabilities and their families. This organization, which we first introduced to you last year when we interviewed co-founder and then Executive Director Jane Doyle, operates independently of state and federal funding and provides a number of services to individuals with disabilities and their families in the Illinois area. CIF also provides housing services through their Community Living Option™ residences, and their New Futures Initiative™.

The Community  Living Option™ residences (CLO) are 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 New Futures Initiative™ is the service that helps other groups and organizations replicate the CLO residences in their own neighborhoods and communities; 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 organizations. This training and support has been developed to teach interested parties how to replicate CIF’s Community Living Option™ 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.”

Plans for the future – we need more core families!

Right now, we currently have a core group of five families who are moving forward with the New Futures Initiative training and community development in Montgomery County, Maryland. We are currently looking for another core group of five families for the Maryland community development, and our first core group of five families for the development in Washington, D.C. Our seminar generated a lot of interest and we feel that we are well on the way to forming these additional two groups, however, we are always looking for motivated individuals to join in this process!

We do want you to know that the commitment to developing communities for your adult child is substantial; joining a core group means taking part in the four day training session delivered by CIF both in Evanston and Washington. It also means committing to monthly meetings, and becoming a true working partner in the project. Having said that, there is nothing more rewarding than finding inclusive, full-life, person centered communities for your child with special needs. Scratch that – the only thing more rewarding than finding that community is knowing that you had a hand in creating it, and are paving the way for independent living models for the next generation.

For more information on how to join a core group, please contact M&L.

More information

As always, if you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact us! We are always available and would love the opportunity to speak with you and explain a little bit about our mission, and the values that we would like to build into our community development project. If you would like to read more on this topic, please visit our blog archive – you can access all of our published blogs by clicking here. If you would like to read more about CIF, the New Futures Initiative™, or the Community Living Option™ residences, please visit the CIF website,

For information on any of our special needs financial and/or life planning services in general, give us a call! Or pop by our website and take a look at the services we provide, and our workshop series – this workshop series can be presented to a group of your choice, in a venue of your choice. We are more than willing to travel! You may also wish to check out our Independent Living Program and Housing Project database for access to information on more than 800 independent living programs from across the United States. You can read more about this incredible online, independent housing resource here. Lastly, if you would like to receive email notifications as to each new blog that is published please email to be added to the list.

Thank you so much for dropping by our blog today, and for your continued support as we work towards the creation of this revolutionary community living model in the Washington, D.C. area! Please join us again next week – until then, have a great day!


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