Good morning and welcome my name is Glennie Mercer and I will be your facilitator for the morning. I just want to say a couple of things as we get going. The focus of today’s session is to share the collective wisdom, experience, ideas, perspectives that you have. There are people in the room here in Toronto, there are people from around the province in various locations: Orangeville, Chatham, Ottawa, Thunder Bay. We’ve got the public tuned in, so there is lots of representation from various folks. Wide representation from people from MCSS, from the Ministry of Housing, developmental services agencies, people with developmental disabilities, their families, family members, family groups, private developers, so lots of different people. Lots of different ideas, lots of different perspectives today.
We encourage you as you’re listening and sharing ideas to share your ideas on Twitter. The hashtag is #DSHousingForum. And there’s also â€“ I think it’s on the next slide, there’s also one for French. #ForumLogementPDI. And you also have a forum programme, which we encourage you to review. It’s got bios in there, it’s got more facts in there, so there’s information that you can access. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from both Minister Jaczek and Mr. Ballard; each of whom have some opening remarks.
Then we’re going to take a short break as the panelists get set-up. There will be a panel of four people, with lived experience sharing their perspectives, there’s an opportunity for you to ask them some questions. You’ll see at your table there’s an email address. We aren’t set-up for mics in this room, but we’ve got people visually so you can email in your questions as that’s going on. And then we will take a break.
After lunch, people in their regional areas will participate in a forum with some more opportunities for dialogue and sharing of experiences. I’d like to begin by introducing the Honourable Minister Dr. Helena Jaczek who is the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister Jaczek has both a medical degree and an MBA, spent many years in general practice, was a medical officer of health, and commissioner of health services for the Regional Municipality of York, and has been very involved with numerous health and community organizations. Minister Jaczek.
Well thank-you very much, Glennie. It’s wonderful to be here with you all for what I hope is going to be a very useful and successful session. I’m delighted that my colleague, the Honourable Chris Ballard is here. He is not only the Minister of Housing, but also the Minister responsible for the poverty reduction strategy, and best of all, he has some capital dollars. I know you’re going to be excited to hear from him a little bit later. And I really do want to thank everyone who’s put on the forum here today and to thank Artscape Sandbox for hosting us here. Hopefully they are aware that this is a social enterprise that promotes creativity and transforms communities and neighbourhoods, so it is the perfect space for our forum.
I do want to welcome the Developmental Services Housing Task Force Chair, Ron Prussen, and the Housing Task Force members that are here with us today. And as you know, we are also having some participation regional sessions in Chatham, Orangeville, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay and thank-you for those who are joining us through our online webcast. As I think we all know, housing is an important contributor to positive health and social outcomes, especially for people who require additional support, such as people with a developmental disability. The goal of this forum is finding longer term, residential solutions for adults with developmental disabilities, and to meet the large number of individuals requiring our support.
To share our ideas on how to remove barriers, improve opportunities, and support innovative and inclusive housing. As you know, I hope you know, in 2014 our government announced an 810-million-dollar investment over three years, to improve community and developmental services. Certainly, at the time that sounded like a lot of money. Of course, what we’ve discovered is that it isn’t enough. Part of the investment, again I hope you know, has been used and is being used through the last three years, is to provide new residential support for approximately 1,400 adults with developmental disabilities, and that number should be achieved by 2017-2018.
We’re also currently funding 18 creative housing projects recommended by the housing task force, for a 5.6-million-dollar investment. That has led to 113 people having new residential support. While the design of these various projects has certainly helped us; going forward, we really need to scale up. We have so many people waiting for residential support. My Ministry does it’s very best â€“ I can tell you because I have been Minister for two and a half years. We respond to crisis situations and somehow that waiting list keeps getting longer and longer as children move into the adult system.
I just want to emphasize that when I say scale-up, I am not saying anything remotely like going back to institutional settings. That is absolutely not our government’s direction. It has been postulated recently in the media for those of you who have been following. That is absolutely not what we’re going to do, we believe totally in inclusion â€“ but, you also know that the Ombudsman released his report fairly recently in September. It was very critical of our Ministry; maybe not working as well as we could with our partner agencies. This was certainly a wake-up call to all of us. We have a lot more to do to ensure that the right services reach each individual to the very best of our ability. It may seem like the easiest solution is to invest more money, and that’s certainly part of it, but funding alone isn’t enough.
I am committed to transforming Developmental Services into a more accessible, fair, and sustainable system of support, and ensuring that all those of you â€“ whether you represent a municipality, or an agency, that we work together with our ministry, with my partner ministry represented here by Chris Ballard, to also include children and youth. This is also very important as people transition from the children’s system, so that we all work together to ensure that no one is left behind.
The theme for today’s forum is simple â€“ we recognize that people with lived experiences are instrumental in finding real solutions for the residential issues people with developmental disabilities face. Today’s about hearing from each other, about what needs to be done to create more inclusive housing for adults with developmental disabilities, and to address the large numbers of individuals on long waiting lists. As in fact the Auditor General reminded me just yesterday. As you probably have read, she’s releasing her report. My ministry will not be the focus of that report in any way, but we keep in touch with the Auditor General and she keeps an eye on our waiting lists, and were doing everything we can to take her good recommendations moving forward. To be truly inclusive, we need to work together and share ideas and best practices.
I encourage all of you here and those across the province to participate by hosting your own session, by leaving a comment on the Ministry website, or simply submitting feedback on Twitter. As you already heard, the hashtag is #DSHousingForum. All the ideas we hear today will be posted on my Ministry’s website.
Housing of course as we all know, is not all about the bricks and mortar that money can buy. It is also about identifying the right level of support to meet a person’s need. As you have likely heard me say before, there is no “one size fit’s all” solution to housing.
To identify real solutions that truly meet the unique needs of every individual, we will need to work together to leverage all available resources. I want to thank all of you again, those of you in this room and at the other sessions for taking the time from your busy lives to contribute to this important forum. I look forward to hearing about the incredible ideas that will no doubt emerge from today’s discussions. Thank-you so much.
Thank-you Minister Jaczek. I’d now like to introduce the Honourable Minister Chris Ballard, who was as Minister Jaczek already said, is also the Minister responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy and has been doing that for the last couple of years. Minister Ballard began his career as a journalist and then spent many years in Public Affairs, he’s worked on behalf of Ontario Consumers, and he’s also spent many years working for indigenous organizations in northern Canada. I will turn it over to you.
Well thank-you Glennie, for that introduction, and Minister Jaczek â€“ so delighted to be here. I can tell you one thing for sure, a more fearsome and passionate advocate you couldn’t find than in Minister Jaczek. Someone who’s been on the receiving end of some of her commentary.
A wonderful, fantastic facility â€“ isn’t it a great place? It does such a great job, so thank-you for the invitation to be here today and to be able to address the group assembled. Thank-you to the organizers for bringing this group together from all over the province: individuals, families, advocates in support of housing, experts, it’s a pleasure to join you all.
As Minister of Housing and Minister responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, I’m looking forward to this discussion. To find innovative, inclusive housing solutions for adults with developmental disabilities. As your government, and I’ll say that again, as your government, it’s our job to improve access to stable housing that meets people’s needs, their unique needs â€“ when and where they need it.
It’s my hope that today’s discussion will help get us several steps closer to making that a reality for all. There’s still a long way to go to support those living with developmental disabilities and their families, but we’ve taken important steps to help make everyday life a little more easier for individuals and families in need of flexible and reliable support of housing.
This past March, we updated Ontario’s long-term affordable housing strategy. The strategy is helping us create an Ontario where every person has access to an affordable home that is well suited to their needs. We know this is the best way to provide the foundation Ontarians need to become employed, raise a family, to build strong communities. Our updated strategy focuses on increasing the supply of affordable housing, supporting people, and perhaps most ambitiously, ending chronic homelessness by 2025. We know there is no one-size fits all approach to providing the housing that addresses people’s unique needs, or preventing and ending homelessness. The Ministry of Housing funds affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs to serve a wide range of Ontarians with unique challenges, including those with special needs. For example, we’re investing up to 100 million dollars in operating funding for housing allowances and support services to assist about 4,000 families and individuals in new supportive housing over the next three years. We’re also supporting the construction of up to 1,500 new supportive housing units to bring those in need home. But to better serve those in need, we must ensure we’re investing in the right places and in the right ways. That’s why we’re developing a new supportive housing policy framework. It will be a great resource in creating and delivering people-centered, flexible, and innovative supportive housing.
My Ministry is working in partnership with the Ministries of Community and Social Services and Health and Long-Term Care, which have responsibility for supportive housing and support services, and of course they are both represented here today. Through this we will better co-ordinate programs, services, and support to improve outcomes for individuals and families.
In short, we’re working together to transform Ontario’s supportive housing system, to one based on client choice, enabling people to live as independently as possible in their communities. By working together, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities, and we can ensure that no one is left behind. As today progresses, I look forward to hearing your ideas in making that happen. Thank-you.
Thank-you Minister Ballard. Thank-you to Minister Jaczek and Minister Ballard, and we’re going to take 7-10 minutes as the panel gets set-up, so if you want to refill your coffee, stretch, and we’ll get started again just shortly after 10:30. Thank-you.
Welcome back, folks. For the next hour and a half roughly, there’s an opportunity to hear from a panel. Those with lived experience in the sector. The two women standing beside me will be moderating. Barb Simmons is the Director of Community Supports Policy Branch for MCSS and Christine Kuepfer is the Director of Program Policy and Implementation Branch at MCSS. I’d also like to introduce the panel: Marg McLean, the second from my right, is the Executive Director of Community Living St. Mary’s Area; Bonnie Heath, is the President of the Scarborough Residential Alternatives and Housing Task Force member and is also a parent; Mike Coxon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Mills Community Support Corporation; and Bryan Keshen is the President and CEO of Reena.Â I am going to turn this over to your facilitators of the panel.
Thank-you very much Glennie, and welcome. For those of you who have never seen Barb and I do this, we kind of riff off each other, so we’re not terribly formal in terms of how we go back and forth. You notice I used the word riff because I’m trying to be young and hip. The other thing that I did want to mention is that I do have my Blackberry in my hand because there are email addresses on the table and around the province, and so we are going to be taking questions for the panel and the way that it’s going to work is that they are actually coming to Barb and I.
We’re not doing work, we’re looking and in-time reading emails that are coming in. To make it equitable, you in the room as well will need to email your questions to the panel to the address that’s on the table so that everybody has equal opportunity. Before we go and launch into the panel, Barb just wanted to talk a little bit about the fact sheet that’s part of your programme.
On your tables, and some of you have already read it, memorized it and already incorporated it into your briefing materials. For those who haven’t, on your table you have a little package of information. In the middle of that, after the agenda page, there’s a little bit of a 2-3 pages of facts or information about developmental services in Ontario. One of the things we were hoping to facilitate with this information is the table discussions so that were operating with some shared information and some common sets of data. I wanted to highlight for you, in your package page 7 and page 8, tells you a little bit about the current state of the service registry of individuals waiting, and among individuals who’ve indicated a need for residential solutions, individuals who are currently ready to get, or accept, or create and move into residential solutions â€“ so that’s on page 7.
On page 8, you have a breakdown of the current service offerings that MCSS funds to support the individuals we are currently supporting. There are half pictures of the problem and part of the solution. What we want to get at today, of course is more creative solutions, in addition to these things that we’re already doing, funding, and supporting. I just wanted to highlight that for you just as we get into the panel discussion, I think it might be useful to help you with your thinking.
When we asked the panel members to be participating and were setting up the morning, we asked them if they could start off by explaining a little bit about their perspective, in terms of their experiences with developmentally disabled adults and housing and we said, we know they are all involved perhaps in specific projects, but we wanted them to begin by more reflecting more on their lived experience. That could have happened over time, not necessarily their experience right now. At this point in time, we’re going to ask each of the panel members to begin by some opening remarks, perhaps focusing on successes and challenges, things they’ve encountered on the way, and again it may be grounded in a particular project or just maybe the accumulation of years of experience. Not to suggest that they have years of experience, but they do. Anyways, thank-you, I think we will start with Bonnie.
I run a group called Scarborough Residential Alternatives, it’s a parent-run group. There’s no funding or anything like that, it’s just a bunch of parents together wanting to know what we could do to house our children. We’ve been around for 10 years, so a bit of experience with it. We took two years to figure out what we could and couldn’t do â€“ so we went to the ODSP people, the Ministry, we went to back then it was special services at home, which has now transformed into Passport. We got all the rules and regulations around that and figured, well we have to comply with a certain number of them because we need the money â€“ and they need the money.
Then we went out and we looked at what was out there for our children; through agencies, private, through whatever. We didn’t like what we saw and so we decided that we’re just going to do what we want to do on our own. In that we decided that what we want for our children is what everyone else in the world has â€“ to just go out rent a place, buy a place, do whatever they want to do during the day, and so that’s what we decided on. Sounds easy. Not quite so â€“ figuring out supports, how much support, where they need support, what kind of support, all that kind of stuff is a big barrier, because there are certain times when they need actual paid supports so those are dollars. After that we also looked at the money that they make, so we looked at their particular budget; it changes a little bit for everyone because they get the ODSP, but they also get now Passport funding. You look at $479 a month for rent. In Toronto there’s not a whole lot out there for that kind of money. To be very practical and down to earth, because that’s what parents do, we decided that they have to have roommates of some sort. This is also quite the same as anyone out there who is young and trying to start off their own life often have roommates. Those roommates can have disabilities â€“ some of them do, some of them don’t, it just all depends on what the set-up is and how the individuals want to work at themselves
As far as barriers are concerned, poverty is a huge one, because it’s hard to make due on little money and paying for the supports that they need. They are slightly different than the general population because the general population doesn’t always need to pay for supports. Society is also a huge barrier for our kids; because when you talk to anybody it’s, “oh they have special places, special programs for them, and they should be going to those special places”. Well we don’t necessarily want to go to those special places. That also connects with the government, because when you’re looking for funding you go to housing and you start explaining that they have a developmental disability. They say “go to MCSS, they have special places for those people”. Same with rent supplements and employment, as well with citizenship, voting can be very difficult for some of our kids because of the way things are set-up. When they look at who they are voting for, they are looking at the leaders, and if that’s not in your riding, then that’s not the person that you’re voting for â€“ so there’s complications there.
Families themselves are a barrier. We’re scared to death to let our kids go out there and live their life, because we think of all the things that could happen. Before my daughter moved out on her own, I thought of everything â€“ oh, they’re going to get robbed, someone’s going to break-in, the biggest issue we’ve had is the toilet overflowed and that really didn’t even cross our minds when that happened. There is a risk of life, we all take that risk and we should all have the right to take those risks. Families quite often are lost in the maze. They go to one place and get an answer, then go to another place and get an answer, and just kind of circling around and don’t know where they’re going.
The most successful part of this is in our learning and might be kind of different to some of what you might think are successes; is the partnerships between the roommates themselves; that’s the most important. Our children come from the parent’s home and they’re moving into their own home. Living with family is a lot different than living with strangers; family will accept certain things, family will accommodate a lot more that strangers not necessarily will. It’s learning to live with each other and how to make accommodations such as spacing â€“ you’re too close to me or too far away from me, or touching my stuff â€“ all that kind of issues that they have. Learning how to live on their own and look after their home and what supports they need with that. The partnerships between families â€“ because these are all family networks supported, so the individuals themselves run things with the support of their family networks. Generally speaking, that’s Mom and Dad or in a lot of cases, Mom.Â There’s that combination of things; families have to talk about money, they have to talk about certain things that their kids may need accommodations for, they may have to talk about some embarrassing things; it’s hard to open up those lines. Another important partnership that we’ve had, living in Toronto we’re very lucky; we have a program with Community Living that’s called Lights. We get funding from Lights; it’s time limited funding and our time is running out, so we’re on a scourge for money. That’s helped us learn where we are today.
In the case of the original group that started Scarborough Res, our kids have been living on their own for seven years, so we’ve learned a lot in that period of time. There’s the other partnerships; there’s the landlord and tenant, there’s the mortgage people, there’s in some cases the social housing providers. There’s staffing â€“ finding staff that are in our way of thinking, that they’re there to support the individuals, they are hired and fired by the individuals, and the biggest hurdle that we have with staffing is that they come in and say “I’m your friend”. Actually, at this point now, the individuals themselves say “no you’re not my friend, you’re my staff and I need support from you”.Â It’s quite funny when you see the expression on the staff’s face when they hear that from the individuals. That doesn’t mean that they are not respectful of their staff and they can have a good relationship with them, but it’s not a friendship thing, because at the end of the day when they stop paying them, they go away. Finding staff and offering “re-training”, I guess is a big hurdle for families.
The best part is seeing my daughter just glow going from my home, where I took care of her to the women she’s become today. She’s thinking for herself, she called me at one point when the support worker didn’t call me recently, taking her 10 years to call me, and she called me on her own when the person didn’t show up. It was like “oh yay! Oh God, what’s going on?!” One of those types of conversations. But the potential these kids have is untapped until we learn to let go, that they blossom.
Hi everybody, it’s nice to be here so thank-you, and it’s nice to meet Bonnie because I see her name on Facebook on the DS Housing Forum, so it’s really good to be able to listen to what you had to say about your project and your daughter, and everything. My name’s Marg McLean and I work in St. Mary’s and live in St. Mary’s. Lots of people won’t know where St. Mary’s is, but it’s between Stratford and London. It’s a small town of about 7,000 people, and when I was talking to somebody earlier today, they said there might be 7,000 people in one building here in Toronto. I recognize that we’re in a small community, however I do think that some of the things we’ve learned in St. Mary’s are applicable in larger centres, because I think we all live in neighbourhoods and basically, St. Mary’s is one big neighbourhood perhaps, and in the city or larger centres you might be thinking of neighbourhoods that would be in buildings, and things.
I appreciate having the opportunity because we’ve been involved with housing for a long time. In the early 1980’s Community Living St. Mary’s set-up a separate housing corporation to support people where they’re moving home from institutions. One of the first buildings that we bought, and I just will give you a quick story about this â€“ one of the first buildings that was bought through this housing corporation was 6-plex, and probably in the most desirable spot in St. Mary’s, beside the little falls which is quite pretty.
At the time when that building was purchased, the people who lived in the building were offered an opportunity to buy it and run it, sort of like a co-op or condominiums, or however they would want to set it up. That didn’t come to pass, so instead our housing corporation took it over, Community Living St. Mary’s supported people to live there, and all the six units were occupied by people supported by the association. We learned through the years that even though people had their own home, in the early years, the staffing was really staffing for the whole building, not so much for people. We changed our ways of doing things so we have a more individualized approach to supporting people, and then we didn’t support a building then, so much. Those six unit’s now â€“ three of the units are occupied by people that use services of the association. The other three units â€“ and at some point will be four units, are rented out to other folks; people who need good housing and can pay their rent. There’s not really a lot of restrictions, however two of the units are occupied by people who have been providing overnight monitoring support; one for 20 years now and one for 12 years.
The other unit that’s rented out at this point, we did an exchange, because what I think is that service providers are not always the best people to be landlords, and I do believe that there’s an inherent conflict of interest there.Â One of the things around being a landlord is, you’ve got to make sure that things are kept nice; so grass cutting and snow removal. That last unit â€“ the third unit that’s rented out at this point, there’s a small reduction of rent, so that in fact we will cut the grass and do the snow removal. I mention that because I think that our efforts in the 1980’s, was trying to find affordable and accessible apartments that are homes for people to live in. What we didn’t quite realize is that inclusion does not work so well when there’s everybody living in one building, needing support; even if it’s a small building. I guess one of my biggest things that we talk about it is having many housing options â€“ many places people can call home, and to really be mindful of the community perception of buildings that are then seen as different from what else is in the neighbourhood. In terms of congregating people and segregating people from community, it’s not something that we do, and we don’t want to do. We want to support neighbourhoods; we want to support community to be actively involved with all members.
I also just wanted to just mention a couple little things through the years. Our earliest years were setting up the separate housing corporation. At this point there are 12 units that are owned by this housing corporation. Seven of the units are occupied by people using services, and the other five are not, and I think that that’s a fine way of doing things. Through the years we’ve been involved with lots of different partners, and I think partnerships when it comes to housing and figuring things out for people is really important. There is a fellow named Jim Henry who’s been very actively supporting “rent-to-own” for many people for a long time. People who have cash flow, but don’t have a down payment. Someone who we support now has lived for 10 years in the home that she’s bought with Jim’s assistance and a private investor who’s supported this as well to help with that, as well as some help to have a live-in caregiver subsidy from our local housing authority. There’s some really unique ways of doing things and this has been 10 years for this person, and it’s been really helpful, because this is a woman who needs secure and safe housing, and has some physical accommodations and it’s not easier for her to find another place to live. She also relies on ODSP, which obviously, we’ve talked about poverty a little bit, and that’s a big deal.
Through the years, we’ve also been involved (Community Living has) as one of the players to help with a couple of housing co-ops get set-up in St. Mary’s. They are kind of at either end of town, I guess â€“ one is with townhouses and up until the last two years, the units have been occupied by someone supported by Community Living. One of the neighbours just two doors down provided overnight monitoring support, again with audio monitor.
Lots of other helpful things throughout time for these two people when they were living there. The other housing co-op is actually in an apartment building, and there is still someone who lives there supported by the association., but she also has someone who provides her with the back-up she needs rather than have staff support. She has lots of involvement with her neighbours inside that building and has lived there probably for 15 or 20 years, I’m not really sure; probably 15 years anyway. It’s been a good relationship through the time.
We’ve also been involved lots with our local housing authority and the Town of St. Mary’s purchases our social services through the City of Stratford; and so that means that there are different players and bigger players for our area. They’ve been very helpful through the years with us, including doing some things like rent in-sites which have been really great for people because it allows them the flexibility to live in one place and to take that with them if they want to move somewhere else. It’s kind of like when people share a home together, if you have a disability and you share a home with another person with a disability, it’s almost like you have to be married to get out of it, or divorced. To me it’s important to ensure that people have the choice to move as they wish to move, where they wish to move to, and who they want to live with, of course is a big part of that. The housing authority has been very helpful with rent in-sites.
Another thing, just more recently and I guess it was about a year ago, now since it started was a triplex building, and that was a relationship with the housing authority and a private developer from St. Mary’s and Community Living. We worked together to renovate an old office building into a triplex, and it’s been really a great project.
We learned a lot of things through the time, and I’ll tell you I need to pay more attention to detail that’s for sure, as we were trying to make one of the unit’s barrier free and the other two unit’s accessible but not barrier-free. It’s been a good relationship with the developer because he’s a person who’s interested in ensuring that there’s housing for all people. When it comes to housing and people that we’re supporting, the relationships that you develop I think are probably the most important thing that you can do.
You have to find time or make time to have good conversations with people so that in fact you can have a vision or see their vision, or what their philosophy, or values are around housing, because inevitably there will be problems and there will be disagreements. If you have that base of relationship, you can work through all of those issues and things. Anyway, the triplex is something that has worked out quite nicely, the upper unit is barrier free and a person lives there full-time that’s supported by Community Living. Another young guy who’s doing the transition from home, lives there one weekend and that works between them. One of the smaller unit’s is occupied by someone who meets the income that’s required by housing, but is also providing overnight supports and also lots of other little things. The other unit is someone who is â€“ you’re wanting me to stop.
Thanks, Marg I just want to get to sorry I just want to get to the other two speakers. We’re going to follow-up because one of the things that’s neat about what you’re doing in St. Mary’s is the variety of individualized partnerships and solutions that you’ve come up with. So it will be in our discussion as we progress
My name is Mike and I am going to talk about some things that are probably different from my colleagues here. I’m going to talk more from the perspective of housing. Our organization is a multi-service organization. We have a portfolio of about 225,000 housing unit’s distributed among seniors, families, and some supports for people of intellectual disabilities. First of all, I’m going to speak about that perspective, then I’ll loop back and talk about things from my career in DS involving co-ops in intentional communities. There will be a little bit of this, a little bit of that passed the buffet table probably, but we’ll see how we do.
Historically when we’ve worked in this field to develop housing, and work with housing initiatives that are not MCSS housing initiatives, the processes involved hiring a development consultant and going to this department or that department at the government filling in a form, and largely it’s a turnkey kind of operation. One of our experiences has been in trying to develop an integrated housing, is that we’re having to work a lot more with municipalities, and I live and work in a municipality just west of Ottawa â€“ that’s the county of Lanark. Small town councils are a bundle of fun to work with. As much as municipalities are supposed to have housing and homelessness plans, they’re generally pretty silent on the whole issue of supportive housing. One piece of advice is if you’re going to do some advocacy work â€“ get that on the radar because you’re really coming out of left field in terms of supportive housing; senior’s housing is not so difficult because they’re a fairly affluent population and tend to make their voices known.
Anyway, a couple thoughts from our experience. We’re midway through the development of a 40-unit project in Carleton Place for seniors, and because our organization also provides developmental support and senior’s supports, there will be seniors with intellectual disabilities in that building. That’s the connection to this group
The learning process is that for social workers, housing development is a very scary place because basically developers are in it to make money, and municipal councils are in it to try and increase the economic base of and residential base in their communities. You have to be â€“ to pose your arguments in terms of what I would call, triple bottom line. I think the thing that often gets forgotten in our work is that whenever you’re doing housing development, and you’ll certainly see this in the infrastructure housing money that’s out there right now â€“ environmentally friendly design is extremely important, and why wouldn’t a human service organization want social impact, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Why wouldn’t you? But we don’t pose our missions that way. It’s some good for some people, and it’s the people who we know and care about, and that’s really the second point. As you are working in partnership and you’re trying to do housing development, you get into things like: do you favour an 8-80 development plan in your community, where there’s housing that supports all populations vs. segregation of separate groups according to income or ethnicity (which you can’t do officially, but it happens), and age. You have to be paying attention to that kind of thing, but the truth is that most of us in this room who’ve been involved with people with intellectual disabilities come from very strong advocacy background.
As much as we talk partnership, we really want some things for certain people, and people smell that out a mile away. One of the things I had to learn is to dial back the advocacy for the population that I’m supporting and try to find the common ground that is affordable, decent, intergenerational housing, support a better community. Now, intellectually that’s pretty easy to say. It’s pretty hard to turn the advocate in a lot of this, often I think you have to do that.