The CSH Supportive Housing Institute Finale took place on November 19th in Springfield, IL, representing the culmination of a four month training series for 11 teams from across the state. Each team offered a presentation in order to share future plans to create integrated supportive housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities/IDD.
The day began with a welcome offered by Jennifer Harrison with the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. ICDD funded this project and Jennifer oversaw the activities facilitated by CSH. She spoke about the importance of creating integrated, innovative housing options to best serve self-advocates who currently may have limited options when examining where they would like to live.
“Supportive housing maximizes community inclusion by incorporating independent living in housing that is governed by a lease, with people choosing their setting and location, along with voluntary services that do not impact access to housing, so people have privacy and control their own schedules just as adults should do,” said John Fallon, CSH Senior Program Manager. One example Fallon pointed to is Annie Niswander, a self-advocate who lives in her own home in Mahomet, Illinois.
Annie shared a presentation about what it has been like for her to live in her own home at the finale event. She moved into her house in July and is incredibly involved in the community. From working as a teacher’s assistant to volunteering at an animal shelter to singing in the community choir, Annie can be found all over town enjoying time with friends, sharing her many talents, and actively participating in community events. Annie is a strong advocate for others who wish to live in their own home and serves as an inspiration to those who would like to do so in the future.
In a presentation offered by Centerstone, a large service provider offering behavioral health and IDD services in Southern IL, Rob Ford shared that supportive housing is the future of their residential program that primarily offers group home options. Helen Martinko followed up to say that “You don’t know what you want if you don’t know what’s out there,” and Centerstone plans to work with self-advocates and families to raise awareness about the opportunity for adults to live in their own home.
Jennifer Knapp, Executive Director of Community Choices: A Cooperative Approach to Human Services, discussed the importance of all invested partners, particularly self-advocates, having choices that they have designed. “People don’t want to hear, this is what I built for you,” she stated. “They want to build it together.”
Team AB Positive, made up of the Association for Individual Development (AID), Brinshore Development, parents, and a microboard named after Bill Henzlik and called Building Independence with Laughter and Love, spoke of both developing integrated housing with a 50 unit apartment building with 25% of the units set aside for supportive housing, 50 town homes with a 25% set-aside for supportive housing as well, and also working with families to create individual opportunities.
The service partners who participated on teams at this Institute include the Association for Individual Development (AID), Centerstone, Community Choices, DSC, Heroes of the Game, Jewish Child and Family Services, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Marcfirst, Ray Graham, SouthSTAR Services, and Village of Progress. Several of these organizations have been selected to participate in a state-wide pilot focused on providing integrated supportive housing for this population.
The finale program was closed by Division of Developmental Disabilities Director Kevin Casey. He stated that “you have a right to decide if you want to have a roommate, and if you want one, you have a right to choose the roommate. We would not allow someone else to decide who sleeps in our bedrooms, and now it is the law for people with disabilities.” He went on to share that “the best model for a person with series behavioral challenges is not an eight person group home; it is in their own apartment.”
Pictured below are team members, supportive housing allies, and leaders from the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities in attendance enjoying themselves during the reception sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Responsibility and Butler Woodcrafters.