Increased and collaborative efforts are urgently needed to close the housing, supports and inclusion gap for tens of thousands of adults with intellectual disabilities in Canada. Building on successful ventures to date, My Home My Community is designed to confront this challenge by driving innovation at a local-to-national scale in housing development and community supports. It does this through the following program framework and approach:
- Increase access to the mix of affordable housing and personal supports that adults need to live independently in the community with safety, security and inclusion.
- Scale-up leveraging of group home housing stock and capital to expand re-investment and re-purposing for inclusive affordable housing and needed supports.
- Grow social infrastructure of ‘safe and inclusive community networks’ to assure safety and facilitate social and economic inclusion of adults with intellectual disabilities.
- Develop policy solutions to incentivize family and private sector investment in affordable housing for people with intellectual disabilities, and bridge the housing and supports gap.
- Publicly-funded housing investments for people with intellectual disabilities should be directed to options that ensure affordability, adequacy and suitability while supporting independence and ensuring inclusion in the community.
- Person-directed planning services must be made available to assist individuals and families plan for housing and support needs in the community.
- Provision of personal assistance/supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities must be flexible – not attached to a particular housing unit – in order to maximize choice, opportunity and inclusion in community.
- Income transfers for housing and disability-related supports must enable individuals to direct housing choices and support options.
- Affordable housing is not enough – flexible supports and community connections for safety and inclusion are essential to make a home and good life possible for people with intellectual disabilities.
- Coordinated, community-based leadership is essential to transforming existing residential and service provision in ways that enable housing affordability, choice and opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities in safe, supportive and inclusive communities.
Program Drivers – Strategic Partnerships:
To achieve these objectives and guided by the operating principles above, My Home My Community strengthens and expands four local-to-national strategic, proactive and integrated partnerships:
To drive the transformation and development process it is essential to build the leadership and organizational capacity of: self-advocacy and family networks to better connect with individuals and aging families in their communities; volunteer boards directing community residential and support agencies; their executive leadership; and, their staff who provide direct supports to individuals and families. At the provincial-territorial level, these partnerships must also engage government departments responsible for housing and community services which have a stake in the group home housing stock owned by community agencies.
Inclusive Housing and Supports
Links are needed between community residential and support agencies, self-advocate and family leaders, financial institutions, housing developers and government partners to develop and deliver affordable housing, individualized planning services, and individualized, flexible personal supports in select communities. Pilot initiatives have forged these partnerships to invest in new housing development, leverage group home assets, and deliver individualized planning and support to individuals and families for a home of one’s own and supports in the community. These initiatives are assisting aging parents now supporting adult children at home and residential and support agencies to transition from inadequate housing/support arrangements and group home provision to independent living in the private sector and non-profit housing markets.
Inclusive Cities and Communities
Municipal and community leaders and partners from diverse groups facing housing affordability issues, social exclusion, marginalization and victimization in their communities must partner to advance community inclusion and the social infrastructure to sustain it in cities and communities across Canada. Through partnership building, nurturing shared understanding across diverse groups and systematic auditing of community services, these partners are identifying service and support gaps that leave people vulnerable. Together, they are creating shared strategies to motivate welcoming and supportive communities for all.
Policy researchers, thought leaders, and representatives from the financial sector, housing developers and the disability community work together to identify good practices and enabling policy options. These partnerships are exploring: ways to ‘take stock of housing stock’ owned by local associations; leveraging opportunities and strategies; tax policy options to increasing family and private sector partnership and investment in affordable housing; and impact of the regulatory environment like minimum down payment rules.
It is also critically important to design policy solutions to assist residential agencies ‘unbundle’ their housing stock and support services. Policy, processes and safeguards are needed to shift current investment in congregated, segregated housing units – so that history is not repeated and good intentions do not result yet again in more congregated, segregated arrangements.