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A Better Way To Think About Housing

September 27, 2020

There is a different way to think about ‘housing’ for people that have a developmental disability that I’ve found super impactful for the families that I’ve been coaching, and I want to share it with you.

This thinking was first introduced to be by Michael Kendrick, and when put into practice, it transforms how we think about ‘housing’ as families. This is the thinking that my family used to help Sarah get a home of her own, and that the eight Oak Park Families used to create homes with their loved ones.

In this video, I offer you a better way to think about ‘housing’ that I think will be really helpful for your family.

If you’re interested in ‘housing’ (or creating a home, like I talk about in the video), I’m facilitating a free online event with the Oak Park Family Group on September 30th that I think you will enjoy. Three families will be sharing their stories of creating an individualized home with their family member, and I’ll be facilitating conversation between families. You can register for free at the link below: 

https://www.empoweringability.org/oakpark/

very best,

Eric

  • One of the largest hurdles to ANYONE when moving from living with parents in the parents place to your own abode is cost. Whether someone has neurological disabilities or not, cost is often the biggest barrier to those in the younger millennial and gen-z age brackets starting their independent adult lives for the first time. The average rent on a one bedroom apartment in North America is between $1800 and $2350 per month, with utilities adding several hundred dollars more to the monthly price tag. The average North American house or condo now hovers in the $385,000 to $500,000 range, with mortgage payments typically between $1560 and $3000 per month, and homeowners insurance averaging a few hundred bucks a month, not to mention property taxes making a pretty large hole in one’s annual budget. Food is now typically $80 or more per person per week. Car payments, insurance and gasoline are usually collectively in the high hundreds. Add in health insurance and other expenses, and it costs on average $3000 to $5000 per month to live comfortably in North America! Even if someone works a full time job at say, $40 to $60 an hour, they still often fall short of their incomes matching the cost of living! Things are even worse if SSDI or equivalent disability welfare payments are the only source of income for someone, which is often maybe $900 per month if you’re lucky! For the people in the latter camp, just about the only places they can typically afford are public housing projects (which tend to be rundown and crime ridden), or to rent a single room in someone’s house, although there’s also the government rental assistance option, but the waiting lists tend to be years long and fewer and fewer landlords now accept tenants with assistance vouchers [mainly because in the past, too many welfare tenants have trashed rental units, often to the point of uninhabitability, and landlords have become weary and tired of it].

  • ”Home” means the same things for those with neurological disabilities as it does for ”neurotypical” people; safety, liberty, one’s private eutopia, an expression of who they are, etc. But sadly, the only options typically offered to those with intellectual and developmental conditions can’t really convey the same feeling. A congregate living facility (group home) or one’s parents residence can never truly be one’s private eutopia. group home residents often get abused, thus the feeling of safety in those instances is compromised or destroyed. There’s kilotons of rules in most cases and almost everything is chosen by the parents or group home managercaregiver, thus liberty is generally lacking. The decor of group homes is a reflection of those who own and run it, and the parents get all the say in how the family home is decorated, thus if one lives in either, their home cannot be an expression of who they are.

    Those with neurological disabilities are usually the last to move out of mom and dad’s proverbial (or literal) basement, and when they do, they’re nine times out of ten immured in a group home. I do get why the group home paradigm is the most common and in many cases, the only one, putting as many people as reasonable in a single house saves the government (or private organization) money, it’s efficient to concentrate multiple people with same or similar care needs in one location, and there’s a general misconception that segregating those with certain disabilities into an institutional or semi-institutional setting is the only viable way of caring for them.

  • Home vs housing is a good viewpoint, now if we could only get govt to stop keeping individuals and families engulfed in poverty we could build better futures.

  • This is a really big deal! My daughter is mobile by wheelchair and has waaaaay more abilities than disabilities. The lack of accessible housing is astounding. She really wants to move and experience a different community, but finding truly wheelchair accessible housing is almost impossible. Sadly there is such a lack of thought for those with special housing needs.

    • I appreciate this comment and privilege can make implementing an individualized home much easier. However, there are examples of agencies and government funding supporting individuals to live in individualized homes. The individualized home typically costs less than the group home model.

  • Hello Eric,
    This was a good start and makes we want to know more! Regarding Oak Park, I am thinking that that presentation has already happened. If so, is it accessible for us to view? Or, will the presentation be happening sometime in the near future?

  • Thank you Eric, I follow up with you and you inspire me and other parents. create home for loved one is beyond housing. continue sharing your story with Sarah , you are doing great job to other family. God bless you and your family. Shirley

  • Wonderful πŸ‘ What a great idea! I was hoping for something like this, along with all the other creative and generous resources, some of which I’ve missed but intend to watch.

    Thank you beautiful Sarah and Mom πŸ™β€οΈ πŸ‘ So precious πŸŒΉπŸ’

    Thank you Eric and all for letting us in. What a treasure! Always valued and appreciated πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜€πŸ‘

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