Four Themes for Success
While the foundation for success is the ongoing personal support and commitment of families to help develop housing opportunities for their family member with developmental disabilities, these stories uncover four other necessary ingredients for success. These common themes can help focus the efforts of others who are searching for housing solutions.
Housing: Affordable, safe, and attractive housing near community resources, family and friends. This includes apartments, condominiums, single-family homes, public housing, or home ownership.
Personal Support: Individualized support based on each person’s needs, goals, and desires provided from people who care, have skills and knowledge, and who are reliable and flexible. This support comes from a wide network of people including family members, friends, neighbors, and paid personal care providers.
Networks: Establishing and sustaining personal, family, and community networks and relationships for individuals with disabilities and their family members. Networks are useful for support, problem solving, education, advocacy, making contributions, or to get things done. This can include joining existing community or special interest groups or growing and sustaining your own personal networks.
Employment and Community Involvement: Good jobs mean people have money to pay for household and personal expenses. Good jobs mean a regular routine and opportunities to contribute and develop new relationships. Regular community involvement activities also enhance a person's lifestyle.
Following in the Footsteps of Others
Family members have been coming together for decades to find housing and personal support solutions for their family members with disabilities. The stories in this booklet are a continuation of previous family journeys. The ideas, strategies, opportunities, and spirit embedded in these stories would not be possible without the foundation laid by countless pioneering families over the years. Families who developed a solution unique to their situation with a “can do” attitude of determination and action. The stories in this booklet demonstrate this spirit, and each gives a unique glimpse of how a mother, father, sibling or other relative has nurtured the dream of their family member to live in their own home in their chosen community. These are stories of action, of making dreams and goals a reality. Some family members have been activists for positive change for years, and housing was a continuation of this advocacy. Other families started with this particular goal because it was the right time for their family member to live in their own home. We hope you find these stories enjoyable and valuable to you. Whether you are starting the journey to find the right housing arrangement and support for your loved one or you are adjusting and managing changes along the way, keep in mind the following “keys to success” and “words of advice” compiled from these inspiring personal stories.
Keys to Success
Find the Right Housing and People to Live With
- Open your mind to the possibilities. Include as many people as possible in the decision-making from the beginning, especially your family member who will occupy the housing.
- What kind of housing does your loved one want?
- Where do they want to live?
- Do they want to live alone or with roommates?
- What’s the budget for housing? What financial supports are available?
- What kind of personal support will they need and how does this affect the type of housing they need?
- Location. Accessibility to community resources and transportation; a safe community and building; close to family and friends; a neighborhood where they want to live.
- Get to know possible roommates. Compatibility is key. Know each other’s goals and plans and find ways to collaborate.
- Be creative about roommates. Roommates could include extended family, school mates, college students, or other individuals looking for housing.
- Make a plan for moving into the new home. Transitions can be difficult and take time.
Find the Right Personal Supports – Both Paid and Unpaid
- Determine who will coordinate and advocate for needed personal supports in the home such as siblings, parents, or paid personal care providers.
- Determine how Medicaid Personal Care hours can be used to meet the particular needs of your family member. Family, friends, neighbors can all help and get paid if necessary. Talk with your DDD case manager.
- Finding a personal care provider with the right qualities is vitally important. Someone who is trustworthy, flexible, has the right combination of skills and personality that is compatible with the household.
- Create an attractive package to hire and retain quality care providers. This may include a combination of adequate pay, benefits, rent free housing, supportive families, clear communication, and flexibility for time off.
- Involve family members, friends, and neighbors. Determine who is available to help get things done around the house, help with needed appointments, or to do enjoyable activities together.
Use Networks and Communicate
- Use your personal connections and networks to find the right housing and personal care support.
- Join groups where you can meet people, get information, and get advice or ideas of how to proceed.
- Once the household is established, maintain good communication with families of individuals who share the home and coordinate with each other to get things done. Everyone should be involved. Help each other. Establish how decisions will be made. Have fun together. Be flexible with each other.
Create Routines of Paid Jobs and Community Involvement
- The right housing, roommates, and supports are just the start of a fulfilling life. Support the person to build a meaningful life including a job, enjoyable activities in the community, and friends.
Words of Advice
- Dream big. Don’t limit your possibilities. If you don’t consider it, it won’t happen. Think in terms of the big picture and what you want in the future.
- Start early, plan in advance. This could mean helping your son or daughter learn skills for living in their own home while still living with the family. Gather information, ask questions, and talk to people who have found solutions to get ideas.
- As they say in the ad, “Just do it”. Make a plan and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be perfect - go with what you have and make improvements as you go along. Keep things moving.
- Stay positive and appreciate what you have accomplished and the steps along the way.
- Don’t get discouraged and be persistent. It’s a learning process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Keep in mind that the hard work is worth it in the end.
- Be open to creative possibilities – roommates, co-mingling of funds and resources among people who will live together, different types of housing possibilities.
- Network, talk to people, obtain knowledge and information, become educated, listen to other people’s stories, join groups, ask for help, use the Internet.
- Work together, communicate, problem solve, keep people informed.
- Find out what is available, do your homework, advocate for what your family member needs, learn the system so you can bring together resources that work best for your loved one, and find someone within the system to help you.
- Take direction from your family member whose home you are trying to create – what do they want, where do they want to live and with whom? Let them have their own dreams, and champion their efforts to get there, even if it means living away from the family home.