September 13, 2010
Today I’m going to write about the housing portion of Lauren’s future. Over the years, every scenario we had tried to put together had problems - too expensive, too prone to fail, not sustainable. They just didn’t work. If she bought (or we helped her buy) a home, the cost would be exorbitant – mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc. We could help her for a few years but not for the rest of her life. Or, if the state determined that she was in immediate need of a residence change, her budget would be increased so that she could rent a provider-owned home, which they would manage and staff, but that would mean giving up a lot of control and choice. Or, she could rent a condo or apartment, but in our area condos are usually in a townhouse format (bedrooms up) and the few apartment complexes that would be safe for her, were not built for accessibility. The future did not look promising – it just looked downright scary – impossible – a life unsupportable without parents who would not be there to protect and provide for her forever.
But there was an answer, it just had never occurred to us before. We are partners in a mobile home park. Mobile homes are owned by their residents, and the piece of land on which they sit, is leased. When we started to consider the scenario of Lauren living in her own mobile home, the pieces, this time, fell into place. Because we own the park, we can purchase Lauren’s home at our cost – a substantial savings. The mobile home of today is a far cry from those of years ago. They look like a nice ranch-style home, and can have eight foot ceilings, sheetrock walls, and even fireplaces. Leasing the lot is reasonable and includes property taxes, water, sewer, and garbage. Lauren’s income will not cover all of the rent (mortgage plus lot lease) and the other expenses of her home at this time, but it will cover part of it. We will need to help her for a year or even a couple of years until she can get a subsidy from the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP). When she gets the SRAP, she will need to pay twenty-five percent of her income towards her rent and the subsidy will cover the rest of the rent. She will then have income left over to pay her other housing expenses. (The cost for caregivers will be covered by her self-directed supports.)
Once the financial details were worked out, we needed to make sure that we could get a home for Lauren that would fit her physical needs. I designed a home that would have three foot doorways, four foot hallways, an accessible bathroom for her, and an open plan living area (lots of room to maneuver). The home also includes a separate suite for a caregiver (more about that in my next post). A ramp will allow Lauren all-weather access to a garage for her van and lots of windows will make for bright, well-lit rooms (Lauren is visually impaired.). We took the plans directly to our manufacturer. They accepted the plan and will build the home as designed. They have been extremely helpful in working out all of the details from a special roll-in-shower to pocket doors instead of swinging doors in some locations. We have selected the perfect lot in the park to place the home on and are working out all the elements that will make living in and around the home accessible for Lauren.
I think this will be a happy place for Lauren to live. She will have a home designed just for her. She will be in a safe, secure environment. She will be even closer to shopping, parks, her doctor, and her pharmacist than she is now. But even with this perfect housing solution, the plan for the future would not work without the very critical piece of providing for Lauren’s 24/7 care needs. In my next post, I’ll talk about how we figured out that very vital part of her future.