M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC Presents Update on Special Needs Housing Development Project
06/25/2014

Washington,D.C.company and Center for Independent Futures take steps towards establishing special needs housing in Maryland; asks families to join efforts.

Online PR News – 25-June-2014 – Washington, D.C. – M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is a company that is committed to offering financial and life planning services to individuals with disabilities and their families. Founded in 2009, M&L began by providing expert financial advice, stemming from a many years of experience in financial planning as well as personal experience with raising a child with special needs. In the last few years, M&L has included another service to their roster: independent living/housing supports and services. M&L and Center for Independent Futures (CIF) have teamed up to develop special needs housing in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland areas. Last week, these two organizations delivered another phase of the housing development training to their core families taking part in this development project. M&L describes this progress, and invites other families to join in, via the company's weekly blog.

Center For Independent Futures – What is it?

At its core, CIF is a non-profit organization that “helps individuals with disabilities realize full lives, according to their hopes and dreams.[i]“ There is much to admire about this organization: to begin, CIF operates independently of state and federal funding. Secondly, in addition to a number of other services that CIF provides, the organization offers housing supports and services for individuals with disabilities under their Community Living Option™ (CLO) residences. Thirdly, not only does CIF offer these housing services, they also offer a training program that helps other individuals with special needs, their families, and organizations from across the United States with the support and tools necessary to create their own independent housing model for individuals with special needs – and this training program is called the New Futures Initiative™.

What is the New Futures Initiative™?

As mentioned, CIF offers housing services and supports to individuals with disabilities in two ways: they provide housing options for individuals with disabilities, called Community Living Option Residences™ (CLO). The CLO’s are developed according to CIF’s Philosophy of Support, which focuses on community building and the individual’s right to choice, experience, responsibility, and relationships. In the CLO housing model structure, each resident pays his or her own rent, utilities, expenses, and support services costs – CIF acts as a liaison and develops a memorandum of understanding between the resident and the landlord. Each CLO residence is grounded in “community building, while fostering individual choice and exploration.” The CLO also provides on-site support and staff to help residents with emergencies, and also with community building and developing independent living skills.
The second housing service/support that CIF provides is the New Futures Initiative™. In a nutshell, the New Futures Initiative™ is a training program that offers training and support to individuals with disabilities, their families, and special needs organization to teach interested parties how to replicate CIF’s Community Option Living™ residences in their own states, neighborhoods, and communities. The New Futures Initiatives™ offers a series of workshops, materials and onsite consultations – they help participants “learn about organizational structure, real estate, public benefits, building community, housing, and support for individuals with disabilities.[ii]”

M&L and Special Needs Housing Development So Far

To date, M&L staff, CIF, the first core group of families, and community partners have made great strides towards developing housing for individuals with special needs in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Here is a brief timeline of their progress:

- In October of last year, M&L first hosted a housing planning seminar with CIF for interested families in the area. That seminar led to the creation of our first core group in Montgomery County: five families who have committed to joining the process to create housing for their loved ones with disabilities.

-In November of last year, M&L launched its very own Independent Living Program and Housing Project database, an online resource for families with special needs to access information on special needs housing programs and other information from across the United States. This one of a kind database is available to users via subscription, and can offer valuable access to current and reliable information on more than 800 housing programs, including costs, eligibility, locations, and contact info.

- In February of this year, M&L and this core group travelled to Evanston, Illinois to participate in the first New Futures Initiative™ training workshop, days 1 and 2, where they learned about the core values behind the CLO housing model development – community, choice, assessment, person centered planning, family, and much more.

- In February of this year, M&L was invited to be the new East Coast Representative of CIF. As a result, they will be sharing the New Futures Initiative™ to teach others how to create the Community Living Options™ in other areas.

- Last week, June 5th and 6th M&L and the core families attended the second CIF New Futures Initiative™ training session (day 3 and 4 of the program), in which they made a number of strides towards deciding housing criteria, the organization and structure of the housing, the support criteria, and fundraising, as well as progressed in planning in a number of other areas related to the housing development. This second part of the training took place at M&L’s offices in Washington DC.

Our Future Plans for Housing Development

M&L would like to stress that creating housing for individuals with special needs is a process – it can be complicated, time consuming, and at times stressful. Ultimately, however, there is nothing more rewarding than finding the perfect home life for your child with special needs surrounded by a community incorporating organic supports and associations ready to step in and help along the way. Using this process ensures we are doing all we can to help our young adult with disabilities achieve a successful, happy, rewarding future. This is about person centered planning using circles of supports that fulfill our children’s hopes and dreams.

As you can see from the above timeline, our housing development team has made an incredible amount of progress in this process – and we aren’t slowing down! In July, M&L is hosting another housing workshop where they will share more information regarding M&L’s efforts and progress in developing special needs housing, and provide an update on how M&L is facilitating the first core group that is developing housing in Montgomery County, using the New Futures Initiative™ training. They will also share how they plan to create more core groups and integrate more families in Maryland and Washington, D.C. into this process. Lastly, the five families from the original core group will be present at this seminar to share their experiences and describe the process of developing this housing so far. If you are interested in this project, please join us and listen to this valuable information – you can register for this workshop here.

M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC helps families plan for housing needs of family members with disabilities through services such as their newly launched Independent Living Program and Housing Project and their special needs housing development partnership with CIF. Those who wish to learn more about housing for individuals with disabilities and other financial and life planning services related to special needs planning can visit the M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC website and are encouraged to contact them for more information