Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hello everyone, and thank you all so much for visiting our website this week!

Today, we would like to share with you an incredible guide that has been published and released by the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHANJ). The guide, titled The Journey to Community Housing with Supports, was written to act as a resource for a movement that is very near and dear to our hearts: community based, integrated, inclusive independent living with supports.

As we know very well at ILO, the search for independent, supported living options can be challenging, frustrating, and stressful – often, families with special needs and individuals with disabilities will abandon their search, due to the many, many obstacles that they have to overcome. SHANJ, with the support of their grant partners Autism New Jersey and the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, hopes to help families and individuals that may be experiencing that frustration by summarizing housing models through the experiences of individuals and families, discussing funding options, and providing suggestions for unique housing needs.

If you would like to learn more about SHANJ, the guide, and how ILO builds supportive communities for adults with disabilities then please read on!

Supportive Housing Association of NJ: What is it?

The Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SAHNJ) is state-wide, non-profit organization, founded in 1998, whose mission is to promote and maintain a strong supportive housing industry in New Jersey serving people with special needs. SHANJ serves individuals with disabilities through providing resources and services, strengthening the capacity of member organizations to provide supportive housing services, advocating for innovation and systems change, and educating policy makers, elected officials, people living with disabilities/families and the public on the use and benefits of the supportive housing model.

SHANJ has written and released a policy position on Supportive Housing in New Jersey, which is available on their website. According to the text of this document, Supportive Housing is a philosophy and model for community living that advocates the development of safe, permanent, affordable homes with supportive services in communities across the state and country for people who live with special needs. It is an approach that regards housing as a human right, with the opportunity to integrate into one’s community and live as one chooses, with support. It is a simple concept: housing plus support. Although there are various approaches and models, typically tenants (lease holders) rent affordable housing units with access to services and community support to help them stay housed, safe and healthy.

If you would like to learn more about SHANJ, Supportive Housing in New Jersey, or read their Supportive Housing Policy Position, please visit their website,

The Journey to Community Housing with Supports – What is it?

The guide is a comprehensive document that covers all aspects of finding/securing supportive community living. Comprised of 8 sections – including the welcome, bibliography and appendix – Journey to Community Housing with Supports discusses everything from understanding and navigating the various government systems, through funding sources, and then the actual search for affordable housing. Please see the below summary of each of the five most important sections: Navigating the Systems This section briefly touches on the different systems of support, funding and housing models that individuals with disabilities and their families will need to consider as they move forward in their search for supportive housing.

A Brief History of Housing A Brief History of Housing summarizes the shift in the approved and preferred housing models for individuals with disabilities from state-run institutions, to residential living options, to person-directed independent living in increasingly smaller and more personalized settings. This section also discusses the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court Decision, and the impact that this decision had on the independent living options for individuals with disabilities.

Housing Options with Innovative Supports As one of the larger sections in the document, this section is arguably one of the most informative as well. It describes in detail (and through personalized perspectives of individuals with disabilities and their families) a number of unique and innovative housing models. Some models described include integrated supported housing/reverse integration, individual-directed supports model,  supervised apartments, shared living, and home-sharing model, just to name a few.

Funding Sources Also an incredibly information section, Funding Sources discusses everything from Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waivers, Social Security benefits, the NJ Department of Human Services funding programs, Supplemental Security Income, and other national and state funding programs. A very useful section, it offers valuable information on eligibility, application processes, appeals, and much, much more.

Finding Affordable Housing Finding Affordable Housing explores the various routes that individuals with disabilities and their families can take to find house that they can adapt to fit their unique needs, dreams and hopes for the future, which accommodating service and supports requirements.

Please visit the SHANJ website for more information on the guide, or click here to read the guide in full.

ILO and Intentional Communities

At ILO, we are also committed to helping individuals with disabilities live full, self-determining lives, in an independent living setting designed according to their hopes and dreams. ILO’s innovative model involves creating intentional communities built upon choice, self-direction, inclusivity, and supported independence for young adults with disability. We achieve this by developing teams of paid and unpaid individuals for our self-advocates as they move out of their family houses into their own homes.

If you would like to learn more about ILO and our community building model please take a moment to browse through our website – the About Us section discusses our mission and values as an organization, as well as introducing visitors to our Board of Directors and Advisory Council. Our Building Community webpage discusses our community pods, community building, and the future of ILO. Visiting our Services page will allow readers to develop a full understanding of ILO’s role in building intentional communities and facilitating networks of support. Our weekly blog often provides valuable insight into the issues facing parents of adults with disabilities that may be looking for independent and integrated living. As well, should you like the work that ILO is doing, we have a Donate page that will allow visitors to support us.

If you have any questions about how to join ILO’s network of support, or about how we help adults with disabilities build fulfilling futures, please contact us! We would love nothing more than to meet you, and discuss the hopes and dreams you have for your family with special needs.

More Information

Again, thank you all very much for coming to visit our website today! We hope that you found our discussion of SHANJ’s guide to be useful, and have provided you with some valuable information that will help you in your search for independent living options. Please note that although most of the info in the guide is specific to NJ, there are many common features to housing with supports that cross state lines. The funding, opportunities and obstacles described in the guide can benefit people from all over the country.[i]

If you would like more information about housing – broken down state by state – please take a moment to browse M&L Special Needs Planning’s Independent Living Program and Housing Database, an online, one-stop resource for information on independent living and housing programs for individuals with disabilities across the United States.

See you all next week!


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