ILO and New Futures Initiative Tackles 2015, & One Great Reason Why You Should Learn How to Create Housing for Your Family Member with Special Needs

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Good afternoon everyone, and thanks so much for dropping by our blog today!

Well, we are two weeks into the New Year and the staff of M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is on fire! We are already checking off our 2015 goals, beginning with welcoming more new families to our non-profit Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO), and filling the second round of the New Futures Initiative™ training to capacity!

For those of you who are new to this blog, M&L has been working towards creating solutions for the special needs housing crisis that currently exists in the United States. To read more about this crisis, please click here to read an archived blog on the topic. In 2013, M&L designed, created and launched their Independent Living Program and Housing Project database, an online, one stop resource for independent living and housing programs for individuals with disabilities from across the United States. 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. To learn more about this online program or to subscribe, please click here.

Shortly after this database was launched, M&L realized that although the database was an excellent tool and housing resource for families with special needs, more work was needed to combat this crisis. After learning about Center for Independent Futures work with creating their own person-centered, community based, integrated housing model, Community Living Option (CLO) housing, M&L decided that this was the way to go. The only way to ease the strain created by a lack of special needs housing was to create more housing.

So, with that realization came a partnership with CIF. In February, M&L became the East Coast Representative for the New Futures Initiative™, a training program designed to teach others how to replicate the CLO housing model in their own communities. Fast forward to today, and M&L has seen success with one self-advocate already achieving independent living, four self advocates in the final stages of achieving this goal, and a second round of training that will see even more families create their own community living model for their loved ones with disabilities in the coming years.
Note: For more information on the New Futures Initiative, or how to join please contact us.

Why You Should Join ILO, and Create Your Own Special Needs Community Living Model
Recently, an article titled “Is the U.S. Prepared for a Growing Population of Adults with Autism” was published on USnews.com. The title alone provides us with the most important reason to begin the process of creating your own special needs community – every year, more and more individuals with disabilities are aging into adulthood, and no one is positive that our government is equipped to handle it. According to this article, 50,000 individuals with ASD transition into adulthood every year, meaning that already scarce resources available to this population will become even more competitive. This, unfortunately, includes housing. In the face of theses numbers, the only way to ensure that your son, daughter or family member has the living space and supports necessary to live independently is to build it your self – literally and figuratively.

From our point of view, however, there are more benefits to creating your own community for your family member with special needs than simply guaranteeing a living space. By creating your community living model from the ground up, you don’t have to follow any “one-size-fits-all” rules that other housing programs have in place. You have complete autonomy over how you want to create this community, how it is paid for, who lives there, where it is, and what the services/supports will look like. The best part of creating your own community is this: By joining ILO, and taking part in the New Futures Initiative™ training, not only will you have control over how the community is created, and how it will look, but you will also have access to the tools, resources, knowledge and systems of support to ensure that your family member with special needs lives independently and happily now and into the future.

M&L founder and owner Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC has this to say about her personal and professional experience with creating special needs communities, spearheading ILO and participating in the New Futures Initiative™ training:

“Like all of us, as a parent of a daughter with special needs, I have always been worried about the future and what life will look like for Ellie after I am gone. If you told me in January of 2013 that in January of 2015 I would be spearheading a nonprofit with a group of founding families to create inclusive and integrated communities for our self-advocates, I would never have believed you! Once I fully understood and became immersed in the concept of this community development model, where self-advocates live a full life while using the concept of community partnerships, I had no choice but to jump in full steam. Now, here we are: Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) is a 501c3 with eight Montgomery County families and six Washington DC families. Most importantly, our children will never be alone or lonely. They will have personal networks (circles of support) that go beyond the immediate family, and a full life fulfilling all the self-advocates hopes and dreams. I am truly excited for all the families and their self-advocates who have joined ILO, and I am no longer worried about my daughter’s future. When I think about what the world will bring for the families who have joined ILO, and for my daughter Ellie, my response now is, “bring it on.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to join us today! As always, if you have any questions about the blog, its contents, community development for individuals with special needs, or special needs financial or life planning let us know! We are here for you.

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