Specialized Housing for the Specialized Needs of Individuals with Disabilities

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

In 2012, M&L owner and founder Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC began the special needs housing search for her daughter, Ellie. Carney wanted to find housing that was inclusive, supported, and allowed Ellie to live as independently as possible, while being fully integrated into the community. Carney also carried with her a worry shared by all parents of children with special needs: who will care for my child when I am gone?

What Carney discovered, after many, many hours of research, visits to housing programs in and out of state, and discussions with parents, special needs advocacy groups, and housing program providers, is that housing options that check all the boxes (affordable, accessible, integrated, inclusive, community based) were few and far between. And, for the ones that did exist, there were often “one size fits all” regulations – regulations that limited an individual’s choice over the lifestyle he or she could live.

Based on these experiences, as well as her conversations with parents, advocates and disability services providers, Carney identified that there was a definite need for individualized housing that was not being met by housing providers. Families and individuals with special needs wanted housing that met their specific and unique needs and, above all, they wanted choice about how they lived their lives.

According to a recent article in Disability Scoop, this need for person-centered, individualized housing has been identified elsewhere as well. The article, titled Demand High for Specialized Housing, focuses on an organization that is taking individualized housing one step further. New Horizons, a nonprofit in San Fernando Valley, CA is developing housing that helps adults with disabilities when they develop long term health care needs outside the scope of their disability. Their latest project? A home created to serve the needs of adults with Down syndrome suffering from symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

New Horizons – Partnering for A Brighter Future

In today’s society, adults with disabilities are living longer than ever before. Experts in the field attribute this longer life span to improved medical care, breakthroughs in medical research, improvements in nutrition, and the move away from institutional care towards community living. As a result, we are now faced with an issue that we (as a society) have not yet had to deal with: what happens when these adults outlive their parents/caregivers? Another issue: what happens when these adults develop healthcare issues not related to their disability?

New Horizons is stepping up to help parents who are struggling with these concerns, by creating a specialized housing program for a group of adults suffering from a very specialized problem – adults with Down syndrome who are suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As written in the article, adults with Down syndrome who reach their 40s have a 25% greater chance of developing this disease, and the homes and living programs that exist for adults with ID/DD are not equipped to deal with the needs of elderly adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

As quoted in the article, “I’m getting calls from all over the country, all over the state, from people asking me when the home will open,” said Roschell Ashley, chief operating officer for New Horizons. “There are so many families who want this for their sibling or for their child, who have been waiting,” Ashley added. “One woman is willing to relocate her entire family. These types of homes are not available, and the demand is great.”

The home is in the very early stages of development, and when completed will provide housing and care for six adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Those behind the project anticipate that the demand will far exceed the space, and fully expect to continue to develop these homes well into the future.

If you would like to learn more about New Horizons, or their specialized housing projects, please contact us or visit their website, www.newhorizones-sfv.org.

Integrated Living Opportunities – Specialized Communities For Individuals with Disabilities in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area

Here at M&L, we have been taking steps to create individualized and integrated communities for individuals with special needs in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Although we are not currently developing communities specifically for adults with disabilities with other healthcare needs, we are giving our parents and the members of our housing non-profit ILO the tools they need to create the type of communities that works for the needs of their family member and the family as a whole.

For more information on how to create communities for your family member with a disability, please let us know! We would be happy to discuss with you the different community living options available in your area – we would also love to tell you about the steps we are taking towards created a movement towards integrated, individualized communities for individuals with disabilities. Please take a moment to read through our blog archive on the topic. If you would like to learn more about our community building non-profit Integrated Living Opportunities, please click here.

Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by our blog today – see you next week!





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