Over 30,000 adults with intellectual disabilities living in private dwellings in Canada face severe difficulties in meeting basic housing needs – because of lack of affordability, adequacy and suitability. They have what Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation calls ‘core housing need.’ Many cannot afford housing that meets their basic needs. Many live in poverty. Add to this group:
- Adults with intellectual disabilities living in homeless shelters, where they are over-represented;
- Adults who are living with aging parents and who don’t have the resources or community support to live in their own homes – their families have unsustainable caring responsibilities, are draining life savings and have Nowhere to Turn, as a recent Ontario Ombudsman’s report names the problem;
- Those on waiting lists for residential services - in Ontario alone, 12,000 adults with intellectual disabilities are on waiting for residential services;
- Those now congregated, only on the basis of their diagnostic label, in ‘group homes’ (developed through both provincial/territorial and federal financing arrangements), and who want to move to more independent living but are unable to because staff deliver residential support only in that setting (i.e. support is attached to the housing unit/stock rather than the household); and,
- Those who have been placed in hospitals and nursing homes because they cannot get the personal supports and affordable housing they need to live in the community.
- People with intellectual disabilities who fear for personal safety where they live and in their communities, a group four times more likely than other Canadians to be victims of violence and abuse.
We estimate that all told 100,000 adults with intellectual disabilities are without the affordable housing, needed personal supports and community links that keep individuals safe, living with dignity and socially and economically included in their communities.
People with intellectual disabilities want a chance to be part of the middle class, just like other Canadians currently living in poverty. Quality and affordable housing is an essential first step, but only if it is integrally linked to enabling access to needed individualized and flexible supports designed to promote safety and inclusion in their local communities.
The My Home My Community initiative provides a local-to-national program framework and development trajectory to tap current assets and make the path to affordable housing and social and economic inclusion a reality. It is a timely and cost-effective response to the thousands of Canadians with intellectual disabilities and their families searching for a way to get started along this path.