It turns out that finding housing for a young adult child isn’t just one problem. It’s really two HUGE problems. At least that’s what Bryan Keshan, CEO of Reena, has helped me understand.
As a parent, I want to find housing that is suitable, safe and affordable–problem one. And we need housing that offers appropriate levels of support–the more thorny and more expensive problem.
Problem one: The house
Waiting lists for subsidized housing are decades long. Some of us have been talking about buying a house, condo or other building. But there are so many issues: affordability, co-ownership, maintenance, landlord/tenant issues….And as one wise parent said, “Why are you trying to set your child up for the rest of her life? She might want to move. More than once.” Renting is starting to look appealing.
Problem two: The services
Maddie is growing and learning all the time. It’s highly likely that she will be able to live quite independently one day, as several of her friends already do (like Alex!). But just to get started, she will need help. Trouble is, the services available are quite limited–to a few hours a week.
The idea: Pooling our Resources
So we came up with an idea: a group of families could rent shared accommodation and pool government-funded and family resources. If the group was willing, we could make the house accessible to young people with different financial means by balancing individual contributions between market rent and ODSP allocated amounts. Each family would commit to offer a regularly scheduled activity or service to the entire group (e.g. communal meal, shopping trip, recreational activity) according to their skills and talents. Because the group would rent a private sector residence, the landlord would be responsible for overall maintenance.
Using existing community services, the young people could develop the skills they need to live as supportive roommates and share the funded support hours they are each entitled to have from Passport or from agencies like Community Living or Lights. We would help our kids develop the daily living skills they need, using the excellent STEPS To Independence course developed by Community Living.
Now all we need is courage!