M&L Year in Review: A Summary of our 2013 and 2014 Milestones

 August 29, 2014
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Over the last year or so, readers of this blog, friends, family and clients have surely heard M&L discuss (often in great detail) the special needs housing crisis. As anyone who works in the housing industry, or has a child/loved one with special needs is aware, housing and programs for individuals with special needs are scarce. If you are new to M&L, or new to the special needs housing search, we feel that this excerpt we published in a previous blog about special needs housing summarizes the situation (and M&L’s involvement in special needs housing) the best:

“Our interest in special needs housing began when M&L founder and owner, Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC began the housing journey with her daughter Ellie. As Maedi began to research independent living and housing programs for Ellie, she discovered that there simply weren’t enough housing opportunities to go around. As we, the staff of M&L, began to dig deeper into housing for individuals with special needs, we became aware of the full extent of the special needs housing crisis. More importantly, we became aware of the roadblocks that parents faced when trying to find appropriate housing for their family member with special needs. These roadblocks included a lack of physical housing space for individuals with special needs (partly due to government regulations and zoning requirements), a lack of information about the programs and space that currently exist, and often incorrect or incomplete information being given to parents whowere looking to help their family member with special needs find a home and build an adult life.”

So far, we feel that we have made incredible progress in our effort to end this crisis. Over this last year or so, M&L has been achieving milestone after milestone; beginning with the launch of our Independent Living Program and Housing Project database, through our partnership with Center for Independent Futures™, and the start of our housing development project in Montgomery County, MD we feel as if we are on a roll! Please join us as we share a brief summary of these housing related activities and milestones for 2013/2014.

Independent Living Program and Housing Project Database

On November 11th, 2013 M&L staff officially launched their one-of-a-kind Independent Living Program and Housing Project database. Quite simply, the Independent Living Program and Housing Project Database is an online, one stop resource for independent living and housing programs for individuals with disabilities. The database contains more than 800 entries of independent living programs and housing options, special needs organizations, and advocates for individuals with disabilities from all across the United States – this information includes program descriptions, contact information, eligibility requirements, and funding options.

As well as details on the independent living programs, services providers, advocates and special needs organizations, the database also includes other valuable information that we think is relevant and will be helpful to you as your search for housing options. This information includes things such as current housing news/articles, so you can stay up-to-date on the housing issues for individuals with disabilities and housing developments from across the US. We have added studies, reports, and journal articles to keep you abreast of any medical research or developments that may affect the way you search for housing, or the housing options that you are considering for your family member. Our resource section will contain links to resources that can affect your family and family member with special needs. In short – this database will include any information that we come across or research (and verify) that we feel will benefit or help you as you attempt to find affordable and accessible housing for your family member with special needs.

M&L staff recognizes the importance of your time, and has incorporated a number of useful features into the database to help you streamline your special needs housing search. To being, all information is categorized by state. A built-in notification feature alerts subscribers any time a new program is added to the database, or if any information has changed. In addition, we have created a series of informational videos, which we have uploaded to the database, that cover various special needs planning topics.  All of these features are designed to help subscribers save time, access the information that they need, and simplify the challenges associated with raising a child/ren with special needs.

For more information or to subscribe to this database, please click here.

CIF & October 2013 Workshop

On October 12, 2013 M&L Special needs Planning (together with Center for Independent Futures™) delivered a housing seminar/workshop in Maryland. This seminar was prompted by an interview that M&L conducted with Jane Doyle, co-founder of the CIF, which was published in July. Throughout the course of this interview, Jane filled us in on the history of the organization, the services that the CIF provides for individuals with special needs and, of course, the Community Living Option Residences that CIF staff and volunteers created. We were incredibly impressed by this organization, and decided that we wanted to have a hand in replicating a CIF housing model; thus, the idea for the seminar was born.

The October workshop was essentially a preparatory discussion of the steps involved in creating special needs housing, a discussion of CIF’s Community Living Option™ housing models, and an explanation of the type of training that CIF offers (the New Futures Initiative™). It was an incredible success, more than surpassing our expectations. In fact, it led to the creation of our first core group – five families who committed to working with M&L and CIF to create integrated, inclusive housing in Montgomery County. This core group went on to travel to Illinois to complete the first part of the CIF New Futures Initiative™ training in April, and completed the second stage of this training in June in Washington, D.C. More information can be accessed on CIF’s website, www.independentfutures.com, or via our blog archive.

New Futures Initiative™ Training

As mentioned above, M&L and the core group of five families have committed to creating special needs housing in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and eventually Virginia. This housing project will be developed under the guidance of CIF, and their New Futures Initiative™ training program. In the February 2014 training, CIF elected Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC to be the facilitator of the New Futures Initiative™ training for the entire east coast.

In a nutshell, the New Futures Initiative™ training is intended to help families open doors to community-based supported living options within one’s own neighborhood. This presentation will teach you how CIF (a 501 c(3) non-profit organization) adapted housing policies and practices that have been proven to be  successful in Canada and other states to create new solutions for housing and day programs for adults with disabilities. The training is a yearlong process that takes participants through a series of four workshops. These workshops are designed to help interested groups replicate CIF’s housing model, a process that has been proven successful. The workshops will provide the necessary tools, materials and professional resources while instilling the confidence to move forward. As part of this initiative, CIF also provides onsite consultation, offering the support needed to ensure that the process is sustainable and successful. Essentially, the New Futures Initiative™ provides a road map to help guide families on their path toward solutions for adults with disabilities.

For more information on the New Futures Initiative™ please visit CIF’s website, or click here to access all of our blog posts on this topic.

July 2014 Workshop

M&L held a second housing development workshop on July 23rd, 2014. During this presentation (which was filled to capacity), M&L founder and owner  Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC, and the five families in the first core group shared with attendees the steps that had been taken thus far in creating special needs housing in Maryland.

During the presentation, 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 housing model) plan to move forward with organizing and create this housing 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 housing development project in Maryland, and how their journey with creating this housing model has progressed. As Carney stressed during this presentation, the commitment to developing housing 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, community based person centered housing for your child with special needs. Scratch that – the only thing more rewarding than finding that housing is knowing that you had a hand in creating it, and are paving the way for independent living models for the next generation.

If you would like more information on the specifics of this workshop, please click here and/or here to read our blog post on the topic.

New Core Groups and the Creation of our Non Profit Integrated Living Opportunities

Due to the commitment to creating integrated community based housing for Maryland, Washington DC and eventually Virginia; and with the encouragement of CIF we are creating our nonprofit Integrated Living Opportunities. We are in the early stages of our own community based housing initiative and the nonprofit. Creating housing in the community with the necessary services and circles of support for our family members is the biggest challenge for families with special needs. It is difficult to meet all the needs of a young adult with disabilities. By coming together in core groups and under the umbrella of the nonprofit, together we have more resources (time, money, energy, talents, and networks) to contribute to meeting the housing needs and supports of our loved ones with special needs. We are a network of parents of children with disabilities seeking to support each other with the goal of creating a full life integrated and inclusive community for our loved ones. Please consider joining our core group(s) and the nonprofit to make housing with the necessary supports a reality for your family member.

As we may have mentioned earlier, there is currently one core group of families committed to working together with M&L and CIF to develop integrated community based housing in Montgomery County. M&L is currently looking for other families to join the original core in Montgomery County, and also the first core group 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 groups, however, we are always looking for motivated individuals to join in this process! If you are currently engaged in the search for special needs housing, or will be in the future, please get in touch! This development project may be the right fit for you and your family member with special needs, and we would love to have you on the team! And, if it isn’t the right fit, we can certainly help you find something that is.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the new core group and the nonprofit, please let us know! In addition, we will be hosting a workshop in May titled “Integrated Living Opportunities Non-Profit Housing Seminar”. This workshop focuses on how we are forming and implementing community partnerships and the different housing structure possible, as well as providing attendees with information on costs, funding options, service providers and state attitudes towards various housing models.Please contact us to pre-register, or join our subscriber list to be notified when we release new information.

Would you like more information?

Before we finish this blog, we would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters and clients over the last couple of years; we could not have achieved so much without your help, encouragement, and involvement in these projects. We look forward to many more years of working in the special needs housing industry, and plan to create many more housing and living opportunities for individuals with special needs.

If you would like any additional information on any of our projects, please check our blog archive – we strive to ensure that our website is a consistent and reliable source of information on special needs planning topics, and we always post any updates or new projects that we are involved in. As well, please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions, comments or feedback you may have.

Thanks so much for dropping by today– please join us next week for a back to school discussion!

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