DSO Housing Navigators – supporting innovative approaches and planning for housing for people with developmental disabilities
Everyone wants a home that offers choice, safety, and inclusion in the community of their choice but for a person with a developmental disability that is not always easy to achieve.
Group homes have been a conventional response to the housing and support needs of adults with developmental disabilities and are often regarded as the only option. However, there are a growing number of examples that demonstrate that with the right supports, people with developmental disabilities are fully capable of living independently in the community.
What is Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) & Housing Navigation?
Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) is the centralized access point for adult developmental services, funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. DSO links eligible applicants to supports and services when resources become available.
A core goal of DSO Housing Navigators is to provide information and resources to people, their caregivers, and networks, that can be used to imagine and realize creative, person-centered housing and support options. Housing Navigators maintain an online Housing Toolkit, host housing related webinars, information sessions and workshops, all aimed at providing information and resources to support the action of planning. They also work to form connections with the broader housing world to advance the conversation around inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.
The Virtual Workshop Series
The My Housing and Support Plan document is a primary tool included in the Housing Toolkit. It was developed to assist people with developmental disabilities to create an individualized housing and support plan around their unique strengths and needs. Housing Navigators have developed a virtual Workshop Series, which expands on the topics covered in the Toolkit and is designed to provide inspiration and guidance for completing the My Housing and Support Plan document. The intention is for participants to leave the sessions with a clear sense of their housing vision, increased knowledge of resources and an understanding and confidence in using the tools available within the Housing Toolkit.
Although the DSO Housing Toolkit centers around people with developmental disabilities, much of the information may be relatable to anyone who benefits or requires support to live independently with success.
Fostering community connections
In an effort to promote the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, Housing Navigators have fostered several noteworthy connections and partnerships. In 2018 the South East region worked with an Indigenous non-profit housing provider to secure 10 Portable Housing Benefits and funds to hire an Indigenous Supported Independent Living Worker. As a result of this collaboration, four of the 10 Portable Housing Benefits were allocated to Indigenous people with a developmental disability. This partnership continued in 2019 with a request for funds through the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) for technology to support independent living that was approved for devices, apps, and free internet to those involved in the pilot project.
In some regions Housing Navigators and members of the community, have been successful with efforts to have the need for housing for persons with developmental disabilities reflected in the 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plans.
As part of raising the awareness of the developmental sector Housing Navigators regularly speak at conferences such as ONPHA, Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities (OADD), Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS), local and regional groups.
Moving toward inclusion
It’s important that people with developmental disabilities are offered the same choice, opportunities, and access to housing, as their non-disabled peers.
People with disabilities, especially those with developmental disabilities, experience core housing need and homelessness at significantly higher rates than the general population. Non-profit housing providers can play an important role in helping people with developmental disabilities to live independently, hold leases in their names’, and realize the lives they envision for themselves.
Visit DSO’s website to learn more.
This post was authored by Developmental Services Ontario as part of ONPHA’s blog takeover series. Learn more about blog takeovers and how you can participate.
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