Florida & The Special Needs Housing Revolution

 March 12, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you have no doubt thought of what will happen to your child when they age into adulthood, i.e. “Where will my child live? Where will he/she work? Will there be happiness and fulfillment in his or her life?” These same questions faced M&L owner/founder Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC when she began looking for housing for her daughter Ellie in 2012. Carney, like all parents with special needs, was also haunted by another question: Who will look after my child when I am gone?

It was these questions, as well as the current special needs housing crisis in the US, that spurred M&L to become involved in special needs housing. Since that time, M&L has launched their Independent Living Program and Housing Project database, and has partnered with Center for Independent Futures to guide families through New Futures Initiative™ training. We are also facilitating special needs housing development in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and developing a non-profit, Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO), to oversee all future housing development. (To learn more about M&L housing, please click here)

In the three years that M&L has offered these housing services, we have researched many, many, many independent living programs and housing options – we did this in an attempt to gain a thorough knowledge of all the challenges facing special needs housing developers, to learn how to overcome these challenges and to ensure that we offer all our residents choice and independence. While we did come across many excellent programs in most states, one state in particular – Florida – stands out as offering something that we feel is lacking in many independent living programs: community. Through the creation of three intentional communities – Noah’s Arc of Central Florida, The Arc Village in Jacksonville, and Promise in Brevard – Florida is providing affordable, accessible communities for adults with disabilities to live independently with their peers.

Noah’s Arc – Central Florida

Noah’s Arc, an organization in Central Florida, was the focus of a recent article in Disability Scoop titled New Housing Concept Emerging for Those with Disabilities. The Arc’s second intentional community, The Villages Noah’s Landing, is currently undergoing construction. The Villages will consist of 132 apartments on 16 acres of land, and will provide living, employment, recreational and social opportunities to individuals with disabilities and their families.

According to Noah’s Arc, The Villages will be “an inclusive community where individuals with and without disabilities have a place to truly belong.” The intentional community, which will be self-sustaining through community gardening, a farmyard, and a fish farming initiative, will feature “cozy villages with a variety of home styles.” Affordable, accessible, and inclusive, this community will provide a living option for individuals with disabilities that promote engagement through the activity center, and an “abundance of social, recreational and educational opportunities.”

Promise in Brevard

Promise in Brevard is an intentional community development project that will be located in West Melbourne, FL.  The community will be built according to the “Promise Concept”, or the organization’s commitment to providing a “much-needed housing choice for individuals with special needs.” In addition to safe and supportive housing options, Promise will also incorporate vocational training, on-site employment opportunities, and continuing education

Although this community is still in the development stages, the organization has purchased the Phase I parcel of land, consisting of 10.7 acres. This land will support housing for 100 people, an organic garden, and stables. The organization is fundraising for the purchase of the rest of the 28 acres, which will include a 9-acre subdivision for families of the individuals living at Promise. For more information, to become involved, or to donate please visit the organization’s website.

The Arc Village, Jacksonville

The Arc Village – Jacksonville is “Florida’s first planned community of affordable apartment-style rental homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The community, which will be located next to major amenities (shopping, grocery, restaurants, medical facilities, employment opportunities), encourages resident involvement in the community, and interaction and engagement with family, neighbors, and community members. As the Arc’s website states, living in the community isn’t the same as being a part of the community. The Arc Villages aims to change that by serving as a gathering place for the “entire Jacksonville disabled community.”

The community will consist of 68 one-bedroom, one-bath apartments for single residents, and 29 two-bed/two-bath apartments for one or two residents. Each apartment is fully equipped for independent living, and offers access to a common deck area and walking training. The community center includes a community room, dining room, group activity areas, game room, fitness room, snack bar and movie room. There will also be an outdoor swimming pool, and other outdoor activities

Would You Like More Information?

Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC we feel that the answer to the question, “who will take care of my child once I am gone?” lies in the creation of communities and networks of support. That is exactly why we love the idea of intentional communities, and why we have created our own special needs housing development project, which will be supported by our non-profit ILO. By creating and facilitating networks of support and building communities, the well being of your child is no longer your sole responsibility – instead, the members of the community share responsibility with you. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to support an adult, and that is what M&L and the communities in Florida, are creating: communities of support.

If you are interested in learning more about these communities in Florida please contact us! We would be happy to help you with any questions you may have on this topic, or special needs planning and/or housing in general! We are filled to capacity in regards to our own housing project; however if you would like to stay in the loop for any future development please consider joining our non-profit ILO. We would love to have you join and help us grow our community and strengthen our networks of support.

Thanks for dropping by today – see you all next week!

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