Community Living Toronto
(CLT) has received $100,000 from CIBC for its newest housing initiative. The program, called LIGHTS
, helps families secure housing for grown children with an intellectual disability.
Angela Bradley, PR director at CLT, says LIGHTS differs from previous housing models (such as group homes) because it isn't about placing clients in an existing institutional structure, rather, it's about finding housing tailored to individual needs.
Bradley describes LIGHTS "as essentially a one-stop shop for families looking to pursue an independent or semi-independent housing model for their child."
In addition to providing guidance for families the LIGHTS program, inspired by the Armstrong family
, a Toronto family who set up a successful home for their daughter Jenny (and donated the first funds to get the LIGHTS program off the ground), also offers bridge funding to families in need.
"What was happening in the past," explains Bradley "is that families would come to Community Living Toronto and people would be housed under a traditional funding structure model and that's your quote unquote group home."
But the group home model is becoming increasingly challenging for families, not in the least because, as Bradley puts it "there is just not enough money to continue to fund [group homes] in the same manner as they've been done in the past." Clients can languish on waiting lists, and while there is always an attempt to match people based on personality and activity level, "the long wait means families sometimes take whatever spot becomes available."
Moreover, Bradley says that while group homes still work for some, "many people don’t necessarily need that same model and families don't necessarily want that same model for their kids.... Families come to us and say, 'My child grew up in this neighbourhood, they do this, they do these things. We'd like them to be able to have a home in this neighbourhood, we'd like them to be able to choose their roommates.'"
But while the group home option has its shortcoming, families who've chosen to "go it alone"—that is have chosen to pursue independent housing options for their adult children—have also run into difficulties.
"What we were seeing was that a lot of [these projects] borderline failed," Bradley says. "Not because it was a bad idea or a bad design, but because there were a few missteps along the way or the families were just desperate to get the homes in place but in fact they needed a little more help to get there."
It's this help that the LIGHTS program, which began as a two-year pilot, was created to provide. LIGHTS assists families in setting up housing for their children on their own terms and provides them with resources and in some cases bridge financing. The CIBC grant will be used to continue to fund those families who need a little extra help getting their home set up.
Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Angela Bradley, Director of PR, Community Living Toronto