January 2013 Newsletter

Tour San Antonio Place

In an ongoing series of tours of HCC Partner Properties, HCC will host a tour of San Antonio Place, 210 San Antonio Circle in Mountain View on Thursday, February 7, at 4:30 pm.  Visitors will have an opportunity to tour the common space and an apartment and talk to HCC residents about what it is like to live at San Antonio Place.  Fifteen studio apartments are designated for rent to people with developmental disabilities at San Antonio Place, which includes a total of 118 apartments.  San Antonio Place is located near a Caltrain station and other public transit. Click here to REGISTER.

Make 2013 the Year You Move into Your Own Home 

Do you want to make 2013 the year you move out of your parents’ home or a group home and into your very own place?  Here are some resolutions you can keep in 2013 to bring you closer to your goal:

1. Create allies by incorporating your housing goal into your Individual Program Plan with San Andreas Regional Center (or your Individual Education Plan if you’re still in school).  Make sure everyone in your circle of support knows that your goal is to live in your own home and ask them what they can do to help you achieve it in 2013.  

2.  Stay connected by maintaining current information about yourself with Housing Choices Coalition.  Make sure we have accurate and up to date contact information for you and the people who support you so we can inform you of new housing opportunities.   Subscribe to HCC’s e-newsletter to learn about monthly property tours, housing workshops and new wait list opportunities.

3.  Educate yourself by participating in HCC’s monthly tours of Partner Properties to make sure you are on the wait list for properties you’d actually want to live in. You’ll be able to make a decision quickly when we reach your name on a waiting list if you have already toured the property and know that it’s somewhere you’d want to live.  

4.  Prepare financially by saving something every month towards a security deposit and first month’s rent.  The upfront costs of moving into an apartment can be daunting, but if you save even a small amount every month, you’ll be ready to pursue wait list openings when they become available.

5.  Advocate for yourself and others by attending public hearings on proposed housing projects, meeting with legislators and city council members and telling your housing story in HCC’s e-newsletter.  

Mountain View City Council to Consider Housing for People with Developmental Disabilities

On January 22nd, the Mountain View City Council will consider a proposed 26-unit studio apartment project designed for rent to people with developmental disabilities.  The City Council meeting will start at 6:30 pm at the City Council Chambers located at 500 Castro Street.  

First Community Housing (FCH), a partner with Housing Choices Coalition (HCC) in addressing the housing needs of people with developmental disabilities, proposes to build the 26 studio apartments at a site located at 1585 El Camino Real in Mountain View.  If the project is approved, it would offer 15 units with rents affordable to extremely low-income people and 10 units with rents affordable to very low-income people.  Occupancy of the studios is limited to single-person households.  One unit will be occupied by an onsite maintenance manager, and HCC will also provide onsite supportive services.  

If approved, FCH’s 1585 Studios project will be built to LEED platinum standards with free Eco-Passes provided to all residents.  Limited parking will be available because the project is designed for public transit users.  

For information about addressing the Mountain View City Council about the need for the project, please contact Jan Stokley, HCC’s Executive Director, at (408)284-0993.  

A Parent’s Perspective on the Empty Nest  

For Sherry McClure, helping her son Robert move into his own one-bedroom apartment at HCC’s Partner Property, Fourth Street Apartments, in July 2012 was the culmination of years of planning. “From the time of Robert’s very first IEP (Individualized Education Plan), my question for everyone was what we are doing to equip Robert to live his own life,” she observed.  “I never had any ambivalence about that goal—the challenge I faced as a parent was not whether it would be best for Robert to live on his own, but how and when this could happen.”  

In fact, Robert’s story shows that the goal is typically not achieved overnight.  Robert graduated from high school in 2005 and lived at home until July 2009 when he was admitted to Taft College’s Transition to Independent Living (TIL) Program.  “Robert was bored out of his mind during those four years of living at home—even though he had a job at Great America,”Sherry said.  “It is too bad that it can take so long for qualified students to get into the Taft program, which has long waiting lists.”

While enrolled at Taft, Robert lived for a year in dormitory housing, and then moved into nearby community housing to prepare him to live in his own apartment at home in Santa Clara County when he graduated from the TIL program.  The first day Robert started the Taft program, Taft’s Transition Specialist started working with Robert to get on affordable housing wait lists in Santa Clara County.  “She was well aware of the shortage of affordable housing in our county and didn’t delay in starting the housing search process,” Sherry said.   And neither did Sherry.  While Robert was attending school in Taft, she would often spend her lunch breaks visiting apartment complexes and filling out lengthy applications to get Robert on different wait lists.  “Even with help from Housing Choices Coalition and the Taft Transition Specialist, I knew that I had to do more to get Robert into an affordable apartment when he completed the Taft program”.  

As luck would have it, Robert completed the Taft program in Spring 2012 and was selected by a lottery for a one-bedroom apartment at the 100-unit Fourth Street Apartments, an HCC Partner Property which opened its doors in July 2012.  “At $465/month, the apartment rent is manageable for Robert,” Sherry said.  “He really likes the downtown location and the proximity to public transit and the free Eco-Passes—he is able to come and go as he pleases, and this really supports his social life.”  

But Robert’s move to Fourth Street Apartments doesn’t mean Sherry’s job is done.  “I am still very involved in supporting Robert’s independent living,” she said. Robert and Sherry meet weekly at Robert’s apartment where at this point much of the discussion is around supporting Robert in managing his own finances. He also meets weekly with his ILS trainer to support healthy food choices and meal preparation.

Sherry stated that “Robert is doing very well living in his own apartment, but I have to admit, my greatest joy is when he asks me about coming home for a few days to “hang out.”  She offers the following advice to parents who are starting to think about a future in which their adult child with developmental disabilities lives outside the family home:

1.  Think about your child’s housing future from your child’s point of view.  “Talk to your child about this.  If your child wants to experience more independence, then as a parent, it’s your job to support that happening even when that includes helping them move out of the family home.”

2. Research every available affordable housing wait list and help your child get on them.  “Given the cost of housing in our area, you have to be persistent and keep working on finding a housing opportunity that is truly affordable.   If your child is not on the wait list, he’ll never have the opportunity to decide it’s not the right time or place to move.”  

3.  Screen ILS and SLS agencies carefully before making a choice.  Sherry recommends meeting with multiple agencies, interviewing them and building relationships and expectations—even before your child is ready to move into their own place.

4.  Stay involved after your child moves out of the family home.  “You are still an important part of your adult child’s support system—your job as a parent of an adult with developmental disabilities doesn’t end when your child moves into his or her own apartment—it just changes.”  

5.  Stick with it through disappointments and challenges.  “Living independently isn’t an easy transition for anyone—be prepared for the ups and downs and stick with it.  The real payoff for a parent is to see your child living happily on their own as an independent adult, with friends and family and support systems all supporting that goal.”

Sherry has volunteered to be part of HCC’s Parent Leadership Council, a resource for parents who are considering how to support their adult child in making the transition to living in community housing.  To learn more about HCC’s Parent Leadership Council, contact HCC’s Executive Director, Jan Stokley, at (408)284-0993.  

Play Your Way Day  

The Children’s Discovery Museum will host a special “Play Your Way” day on January 26 from 5:30 pm to 8 pm in San Jose.  Designed especially for families with children with autism, “Play Your Way” Day is open to any person with disabilities or who receives services from San Andreas Regional Center.  The cost is $20 for the entire family and is part of an ongoing series of activities and resources for families with children with autism.  Learn more and pre-register at www.cdm.org.