Thought of the Day: Supreme Court Justice Kennedy noted in his concurring opinion regarding the Olmstead Decision, “It would be unreasonable, it would be a tragic event, then, were the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to be interpreted so that states had some incentive, for fear of litigation to drive those in need of medical care and treatment out of appropriate care and into settings with too little assistance and supervision.” Id. at 610.
Travelling from coast to coast last week, I was encouraged by how great our common purpose is among the passionate groups and individuals fighting to find a place that adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) can call home. Last week, Madison House was in California meeting with the forward-thinking members of the Coalition for Community Choice and sharing presentations at the A Place for Us Housing Conference on residential options, policy concerns, and other issues designed to help parents and organizations launch local housing solutions.
Then, it was back to the Atlantic shore in Delaware to participate in a conference entitled Innovations in Residential Neighborhoods: Advancing inclusive, independent, and intergenerational living.
Micki Edelsohn, the tireless force behind Homes for Life Foundation, organized the event, and MHAF’s Desiree Kameka shared a presentation that earned resounding thanks from participants with many requests for broader dissemination. Jim Whittaker of the ARC Jacksonville shared details of his experience with public, private, and nonprofit partnerships and how he used federal affordable housing Low Income Housing Tax Credits to create the Arc Village.
The conference ended with a rousing panel discussion on whether or not individuals with I/DD should have the right to use their public funding for essential life supports in settings of their choice like the Arc Village. This story from Delaware Online reports on this controversy that can potentially restrict housing options for those with I/DD.
The takeaway from last week’s coast to coast travels is that parents, organizations, and stakeholders continue to ask what they can do so that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can choose to live in communities where members share a common ethos, friendships, and meaningful days – an array of options to reflect an array of people. The message is clear: We need more housing options for adults with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities. Yet, throughout the country, we are hearing more and more stories of how some legislative officials may be misinterpreting HCBS waiver guidance on the state levels. Strict definitions threaten so many lives by closing doors in the name of deinstitutionalization and thwarting innovative, affordable solutions.
The Coalition for Community Choice is one of many ways to make progress on housing for people with disabilities. The CCC was formed because we cannot solve critical and complex issues (such as housing) by being a fractured community with many narrow and conflicting stakes in the ground. By raising concerns, identifying the weaknesses, and working together to create room at the table for all, the CCC can help to move the agenda forward for all of us. The autism spectrum is wide and the choices for housing should be wide as well. Demand is great, funding is minuscule, and understanding is woefully inadequate. We need many choices, many models, and many funding combinations if we are going to reduce the waiting lists and create quality housing options for our constituents.
About the Author:
Adrienne McBride oversees all aspects of the organization. Her focus is overall strategic and operational responsibility for Madison House’s staff, programs, and mission. Raised in Staten Island, NY, Adrienne received her bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University, CT. While her children were young, Adrienne earned a Masters of International Business Management (Marketing).
Adrienne serves as a Board Director for the League of Women Voters-Montgomery County and is active on the Budget and Fundraising Committees. She chairs its Montgomery County Budget Process review committee and is a longtime volunteer for Holy Cross Home Care and Hospice. In her spare time, Adrienne practices yoga, travels, and spends time with her family.