In December 2017, The Center launched a new pilot program aiming to offer adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) a community-based living option to help them achieve their highest possible level of independence.
Deemed the Supported Independent Living Program, the program was developed in response to a growing demand amongst people with I/DD and their families for living options outside the family home and group home settings. With increased advocacy and awareness, as well as medical advancements, prospects for those with I/DD have skyrocketed over the past several decades and families are looking toward the future.
A New Way to Live
The landmark Olmstead Act of 1999 decided that a person, regardless of disability, has the right to live, reside, and work in the community. Individuals with I/DD and their families have long relied on Medicare and Medicaid to ensure state compliance with these rights. While these programs have been and continue to be important, families often come up against the barrier of a years-long interest list.
The goal of the Supported Independent Living Program is to provide a new residential option that will support the rights of individuals with I/DD to live and reside in their community with full access to its resources. The program accomplishes this by partnering with property managers throughout Houston to offer individuals who are ready to live independently but may still need some support with the opportunity to live in their own apartment.
The most notable line of support comes in the form of an on-site Residential Administrator. The Residential Administrator resides in a separate unit in the same complex and is available to residents during regularly scheduled times and for emergencies. He or she also coordinates several common meals for all the residents throughout the week and assists with other daily living tasks with which a resident may need help.
“We want the program to offer our clients the same pattern of living available to people without disabilities to the greatest extent possible,” says Charles Kerlegon, Director of Residential Services at The Center. “Having this support system in place will help them to achieve and maintain that level of independence.”
In the pilot phase of the Supported Independent Living Program, The Center has secured a group of apartments at one property, Stella at the Medical Center, managed by Roscoe Properties, Inc. At Stella, residents share three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments with a common kitchen and living area. The units are impeccably finished with hardwood floors and offer amenities like a fitness center, picnic areas with barbeque grills, and a cyber café with Wi-Fi.
Stella was not just chosen for its beautiful facilities. The apartment complex is situated just across the street from the Michael E. Debakey Medical Center, whose partnership expansion with The Center opened up dozens of new patient escort positions for our clients last year. This location removes any transportation barriers for clients working at the VA and facilitates job success. Additionally, it is conveniently close to necessities like grocery stores and public transportation as well as entertainment options like restaurants, shopping centers, the Museum District and Hermann Park.
As of January, five individuals have already moved in with at least seven expected to move in by mid to late spring.
Looking Toward the Future
As the Supported Independent Living Program expands, the goal is to offer residential options in areas throughout the city. Our clients’ needs are the strongest factor we consider as we pursue new properties for these partnerships, and we are constantly reassessing based on where our clients work, study, and spend their time.
With this new pilot, The Center strives to provide a model program of independent living for adults with I/DD. More than that, we hope it can act as a vessel for this capable population to go out in the community and thrive.