July 31st, 2019
Like many, possibly most, maybe all parents of adult children with special needs, I would lie awake at night tormented over my daughter’s long-term living situation. Emma is nineteen and has a developmental disability. Housing opportunities for adults like Emma are limited, constrained by funding, burdened by lengthy waiting lists and fraught with difficulties in finding companionable roommates and reliable care.
There is urgency everywhere, in every state, as legislators and families alike struggle to find appropriate solutions to house the developmentally disabled – particularly if and when their families can no longer provide that care at home.
Ages ago, the “solution” was the institution. Parents were discouraged from keeping special needs children at home, allowing the state to provide needed “care.”
Fortunately, over the past 50 years, the movement away from institutions to inclusion has been sweeping. From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the 1960s, to the closing of Willowbrook in the 1980s, to the Supreme Court’s Olmstead case in 1999, advocates argued that people with disabilities should, could and ultimately had the right to live in the community rather that in institutions.
But, Community Inclusion Doesn’t Mean Included
Since then, “congregate settings” for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been discouraged with “inclusive” community-based settings the preferred alternative. The thought being: to congregate is to segregate, just one step shy of institutionalizing.
But inclusive doesn’t always mean included. Residents in a group home of disabled adults in an otherwise “normal” neighborhood are likely to be ostracized. Rarely will they be invited to the neighborhood pool party. Instead, the good intentions of inclusion often lead those with disabilities to stand out and, therefore, be left out.
While society may feel less guilt with inclusion, those with disabilities feel something else; it’s simply more comfortable to be with others like themselves, rather than struggle to fit in.
Parents of children with disabilities know this struggle all too well. So, as we seek a living arrangement for our disabled children, congregate living communities like Luna Azul are finding renewed enthusiasm.
We all prefer to congregate among those with whom we most identify. It’s a natural human tendency. It allows for easy friendships, self confidence among peers and reassurance that we truly belong.
For Emma and her neighbors, Luna Azul is providing such a place. The community site plan and homes’ floor plans, the amenities, staff and activities have all been designed and considered to foster friendships and create community.
Indeed, as I prepare to welcome Luna Azul’s first residents later this month, my greatest satisfaction is simply knowing all these neighbors will truly feel at home.
Luna Azul is America’s first for sale residential community for adults with disabilities. Located in North Phoenix, Arizona, Luna Azul is an intimate "pocket neighborhood" developed by Mark Roth of ECC Management, LLC.
This is not an offer to sell, nor a solicitation of an offer to buy, to residents of any state or province in which registration or other legal requirements have not ben fulfilled. Void where prohibited by law. All plans, amenities, availability, completion dates, prices, improvements and incentives are subject to change without notice. All measurements are approximate. Sales and Marketing by LaunchPAD Sales and Marketing Group/Launch Real Estate.