HOPE Housing Makes the Dream of Independence Come True for Resident and Her Family
by IAN NEVAREZ
“She pays all of her bills online,” Emily’s mother Tammy chimes in, “She’s really good about rent. She’s on it and doing it all on her own.”
Emily sits in the living room of her new HOPE Independent Living Home with her mother and father Tom. She is polite and friendly and eager to speak about her recent move, her increased independence, and her next big steps in life.
For many parents, there is no guarantee that their children with developmental disabilities will grow up to live on their own. For Emily, her journey to acquire affordable housing and achieve greater self-reliance was not a straight path. “Earlier in Emily’s life we really questioned if she could live independently,” Thomas says, “but the more she developed and got into programs like [College to Career], the more she grew into the young woman she is today. They prepared her to do things like this.”
Emily now shares a three-bedroom HOPE home in Norwalk with two roommates. Their rent comes out to no more than 1/3 of their income. They take care of their household chores and utilize supported living services as needed through Harbor Regional Center.
Adults with developmental disabilities have the same goals as anyone. They desire dignity and opportunity to grow into self-reliant members of their community. HOPE believes that housing is foundational to this journey.
“A home means living independently,” says Emily.
One way HOPE and its donors support this dream is through the College to Career program. C2C homes are designed to offer dorm-like housing near Long Beach City College for students with special needs. During Emily’s time in the program, from 2014-2016, she received a full range of both on-campus and residential supports. Staff members were available on site and on campus to provide additional academic counseling and assistance with independent living skills.
For Emily, the C2C program was the final step in her journey toward housing independence. Earlier in life, she benefited from a high school life skills program that taught her budgeting and grocery shopping skills and the Torrance Transition program that taught her bus transportation and job readiness skills. Because of these programs, Emily is now thriving in her new environment.
“I like to make my own meals in the kitchen and to water the yard,” she says, “and then in my personal time I enjoy writing in my journal, watching movies, or reading books.”
Emily is now in the process of searching for a job—her next important life goal. Like many young adults who finish their college education and hope to enter the workforce, Emily is facing an uphill climb. “I’m still job hunting,” she admits. “I’m waiting to hear back from my last interview.” She is optimistic though and determined to find work in her chosen industry of retail.
Tom is visibly proud of his daughter who has matured into an inspiring young woman. “I think her new living situation—and the independence and responsibility of running a home that comes along with it—is what is now giving her the confidence to go out and find a job.”
“That is how housing has influenced her,” he adds.
Emily’s future is truly bright. With the needed supported services through Harbor Regional Center and her stable, affordable housing through HOPE, she is on her way to living the life she always dreamed. “In the next few years, I’d like to be a married woman,” Emily shares, “and maybe taking care of my kids part-time and working part-time.”
HOPE believes in her ability to reach these goals, and we will be here every step of the way to ensure that her housing provides the stability needed to live life to the fullest.
Sadly, HOPE has a waiting list of more than 200 adults with developmental disabilities who are standing by for their chance to have a stable, affordable home to call their own. Join us in making their dreams a reality. Donate here.