This Demonstrations Initiative profiles inclusive housing solutions for people with a developmental disability.
This demonstration shows innovation to partnering with community organizations and housing developers to build inclusive, affordable housing options. These innovative approaches to development provide support and foster social inclusion for people with disabilities.
Key Findings / Key Goals
Separating housing and disability supports ensures tenants can make their own decisions about where and how they want to live.
Using a corporation to purchase a home is a positive “workaround” to the barrier of legally obtaining a mortgage.
The Just Enough Support model increases real community connections and prevents over-supporting - a barrier to social inclusion.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Fostering social inclusion in housing for people with a developmental disability
The My Home My Community: Inclusive Housing Options Demonstration Initiative profiled innovative approaches to developing inclusive, affordable housing. It provides support and fosters social inclusion for people with a developmental disability.
The models show different ways people with developmental disabilities and their support circles make inclusive, affordable housing a national reality. This demonstration initiative includes a series of 3 case studies. It is focused on 3 development pathways in building inclusive housing solutions:
- family driven development
- community agency driven development
- developer-partnership driven development
Family-led solutions provide geared to income housing options for tenants
Legacy Homes is a non-profit, charitable housing corporation located in Leeds and Grenville United Counties in Ontario. It was founded by parents of people with a developmental disability. Its goal is to live in a known community versus moving into long-term care or group homes. As of 2019, the corporation owns 9 homes that house 10 tenants.
Here’s how it works:
- Legacy Homes consults with interested families before it purchases a home.
- A suitable home is found and a tenant support plan is put in place.
- Donations from the family, support network and /or others is made to Legacy Homes work to build the down payment.
- Once Legacy Homes owns the property a landlord-tenant relationship is established.
Tenants can only be evicted if they do not pay their rent, which generally covers the mortgage payment.
The rent is geared to income, and tenants have access to various housing allowances, making their rent more affordable. Once a tenant vacates a home, it returns to Legacy Homes.
Legacy Homes can then rent it out to another tenant. If the home doesn’t suit a new tenant, they can sell it and purchase a new one.
In this model, housing and support services are independent from one another. This means the tenants can choose their support services provider without this decision having an impact on their housing situation.
The tenants, supported by their family and friends, make their own decisions about where and how they want to live.
Developing intentional communities for people with and without disabilities
UNITI-Chorus is a partnership between 3 organizations:
- Semiahmoo House Society
- Peninsula Estates Housing Society
- Semiahmoo Foundation
Through the UNITI-Chorus partnership, the organizations own, operate and provide supports to the 71-unit apartment building. This is home to people with and without a developmental disability.
Having 3 separate organizations is an intentional choice. It allows for a separation of housing and supports – a key principle in a rights-based approach to disability supports. Tenants with a disability have the same rights and conditions as tenants without, since the partnership owns the building.
Prior to and during the building process, there were frequent consultations with people with a developmental disability and their families. Tenants with disabilities were identified and support plans were put in place. Sessions were also held with parents and family members to identify perceived risks and worries to ensure a smooth move-in.
Support staff to the tenants with developmental disabilities use the “Just Enough Support” model.
This model encourages tenants to do as much as possible by themselves and to receive support only when necessary. This increases:
- the chances of individuals connecting with local people in their communities
- their circle of un-paid supports, while preventing over-supporting which can be a barrier to social inclusion
A Just Enough Support approach helps support staff, people with disabilities, and their families.
It thinks about the combination and integration of various supports to provide a happy and safe life for people.
The UNITI-Chorus building is one of the first of its kind in Canada. The support agency and its partners developed a community for people with and without disabilities. The building also serves as a proof of concept for the Just Enough Support model in Canada.
Partnering with developers to create inclusive housing options
Community Living Toronto creates supportive housing for people with a developmental disability.
It is done through partnership agreements with local for-profit and not-for-profit developers and landlords. These agreements are used to secure a number of apartments in existing or new buildings.
Traditionally Community Living Toronto had offered housing through group homes spread throughout the city. However, the:
- homes were in need of significant repair and no longer met the needs of their occupants
- group home model isn’t considered inclusive by much of the disability community
- group home model isn’t aligned with a rights-based approach to disability supports
To address this, Community Living Toronto partnered with developers to provide units to:
- their current group home residents
- others with a developmental disability
Tenants live alone or with chosen roommates in multi-bedroom apartments. All tenants receive some form of paid supports through Community Living Toronto. The support (from minimal to significant) varies with each living arrangements and is provided by staff who are already familiar to the tenants. Rents are set at 80% of market rates or are geared to income.
Community Living Toronto now has active partnership agreements in 3 buildings, offering 46 apartments for 76 tenants with a developmental disability.
Buildings that used to be for people without disabilities have now transformed to buildings for people with and without disabilities. Community Living Toronto has transitioned from providing group home housing to facilitating independent living in the community.
Opportunities for Replication and Scale
Based on the case studies, there are a number of aspects to this demonstration project that could be replicated throughout Canada. This would increase the number of innovative inclusive housing options for people with a developmental disability.
- Using a corporation to purchase a home on behalf of a person with a developmental disability is a positive “workaround”. It removes the barrier of legally obtaining a mortgage and it keeps the purchased homes in the chosen community. They are dedicated to people with developmental disabilities even after the current tenant has moved out.
- Community Living Toronto’s approach of partnering with housing developers is relatively cost neutral and risk free to the organization. This is when it is compared to direct development or purchasing units. Community Living Toronto has replicated the model twice in different areas of the city and with different types of developers/landlords. This demonstrates there is flexibility to tailor this approach to the individual needs of an organization and its residents.
- Partnerships can be leveraged to include units for people with a developmental disability, including areas with historically low vacancy rates. The key is patience and long-term relationship building. With or without assets or development capacity, Canadian organizations can obtain inclusive affordable housing for people with a developmental disability.
Many support agencies throughout Canada have group home properties that could be repurposed or sold to purchase land or buildings. This is particularly true in more urban areas where land and house prices are high. A dense population could support rental or condominium apartment buildings.
UNITI-Chorus has been able to develop an inclusive community where people with a developmental disability can thrive. The organization has accomplished this without significant previous development experience and limited government funding.
Other organizations could be able to accomplish something similar.
Project Collaborators / Partners:
People First of Canada,
Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement,
Community Living Toronto,
Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society (IRIS),
Semiahmoo House Society
Get More Information:
- Contact CMHC at email@example.com
- Visit the National Housing Strategy’s Innovation and Research Section
See how you can apply for a Demonstrations Initiative grant.