Submitted by Ben Postmus
Inclusive/supportive housing — or lack thereof!
It’s actually pretty sad the lack of housing options for individuals and families that live with a developmental disability/divest ability.
Especially here in the Kootenays.
In some communities it just does not exist - period. Nothing.
But there are many individuals that live in those communities.
For some, the only option that had been presented to them and their families was to live in a seniors housing center, if there was a spot.
Now flip this and make it personal.
If you were looking for housing, and living in a seniors home at the age of 20 to 35 was your only option, how would you feel about that?
It’s not the best scenario.
In other communities, group homes are the only option .
For those that do not know what a group home is, modern terms would call this staffed residential, meaning three to six, or in some cases more, live in a “home” with 24-hour staff working various shifts.
For some, but not many, it is the best option.
But, when it is the only option, well that’s a problem. And for many families there are too many instances and horror stories about life in a group home.
Let’s be clear, there are some very good examples of staffed residential homes in the Kootenays, but the ones that we hear of from outside of our region puts a dark cloud over this model for families.
They do not feel it is a safe place for their loved ones.
Next option presented is home share.
This is where a family, under contract from a local agency, will open their own home to an individual(s) max two people, and offer a basement suite of a portion of their home for the person to live .
There are examples of this doing very well, and there are some where it’s not so well.
Caregiver burnout, not a right fit and the dreaded, not enough money in it for the person providing the home share.
There are also instances where the individual living in this model can be bumped around to several home shares in the course of their lives.
So as you suspect for families, it’s not the best option .
There are some amazing examples of communities and agencies providing inclusive/supportive/semi independent housing around the province, but our Kootenay region is very much lacking in this.
For one, we do not seem to have the developers with deep pockets to provide these builds and including 10-15 per cent of those builds for below market value/deep subsidized housing.
It does happen, but very rarely.
Also many community leaders and politicians have no idea what supportive/inclusive/international housing is at all — zero.
This is troubling.
There is some major education that needs to happen here.
So, where do people with developmental disabilities fit in their civic planning?
Many individuals do not have the capacity to advocate for themselves, so it is put on the shoulders of family.
Many of these families are aging and at the point of needing care for themselves.
There is some major advocacy that needs to happen here.
Walk a few days in the shoes of a family that has aging sons and daughters as they age themselves and you will have a better understanding.
Many times these folks are lumped in with seniors, or communities feel that if they include seniors into their housing planning, that that is “inclusive.”
People with developmental disabilities are a totally different population, with totally different needs and should be treated as such.
We have a long way to go, that’s for sure.
I will leave you with this: just because a person has developmental disabilities/diverse abilities, that does not mean that they should be told where they have to live and who they have to live with.
They do have a choice.
FYI: I host a housing conversation on Zoom every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.
The audience is province-wide and primarily families.
Discussing and sharing housing models with guests from all over B.C.
To join the Zoom meeting visit: diversefamilyroots.ca.
Click on “Events” in the top right corner of the web page, then scroll down to “Housing that Fits” and click “Register here.”
Ben Postmus is a Family Navigator/Advocate for Diverse Family Roots.