Database would help the disabled find housing

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Database would help the disabled find housing
By Jackie Albarella

For many years we have heard
about the shortage of housing for people
with developmental disabilities.
This has been an issue for my family.
My brother is 65 years old and has a
developmental disability. Like many
people his age, he has lived his entire
life in the same home.

When he was growing up there
wasn’t the same educational opportunities
or services to help folks like my
brother become independent.
There are many disabled seniors
like my brother, and as their parents
pass, they are left to find a new home.

Through much work, our family has
been able to keep my brother in the
only home he has ever known. With
help from People Inc. and the state, we
have been able to construct a group of
services that give my brother the help
and supervision he needs.

This is not easy. The family still
has great responsibilities for staffing
schedules, budgeting and more. But
what makes this work is that my brother
shared the apartment, services and
expenses with a roommate.

As with other living situations, the
time comes when a roommate may
leave, and the problem is finding a new
roommate. We have spent many hours
trying to find one. For my brother, not
having a roommate may force him out
of his home. And where will he go?

Options for a person of his limited
abilities include a group home on
an emergency basis, because the state
stopped building new group homes
years ago. This situation may be miles
from his family, sharing a bedroom
and the house with seven or eight other
people. Or perhaps a nursing home
where they have no training or interest
in a developmentally disabled adult.

Most frustrating is that there is
no central database for disabled people
looking for housing situations. I
was able to find a small organization
in Rochester founded by parents that
keeps a database of housing, activities
and important information for the
disabled. Unfortunately for our family,
they only cover Monroe and Niagara

We need an organization like this
in Erie County. As more and more disabled
become senior citizens, we need
a comprehensive list of available housing
that families can access. Disabled
seniors who have always lived with
their families may be harder to track,
but if there was a communal database
it could help when planning their future.

For many people with developmental
disabilities, their aging families are
struggling to find the right place for
them. It would help so much if there
was information that could be shared
to make life better for everyone.

Jackie Albarella, a documentary
filmmaker, has won national
broadcasting awards for my
documentaries on group homes for the
developmentally disabled, the Special
Olympics and homelessness in Buffalo.
Another Voice / Developmental health
Database would help the disabled find housing