Collaboration is the key to creating more inclusive housing for people with developmental disabilities and the community. Everyone can have a role, and can offer creative and innovative ideas. No one person, company, agency or community planner can do it alone.
There are three big groups of individuals and organizations who have a part to play:
People who want inclusive housing
This includes the individuals who will live in it, along with their families, service-providers, and other community allies. These folks know a lot about what people with developmental disabilities need, want and have to offer. And how the community as a whole benefits when they are included. There is commitment, passion, community knowledge and expertise with community building to be found here. Along with potential assets like land, paid services, or other resources that could be harnessed:
Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
The people who are eligible for CLBC-funded supports
Individuals may have access to funding to buy, renovate, finance, co-finance, and/or rent their own home, via trusts or their families. Families may also own land that could be suitable for housing. They are a great source of innovative ideas and experience with advocacy and planning around their son or daughter’s needs. They have experience in using collaboration to create solutions. Families, along with friends, neighbours and co-workers, are important natural supports for people with developmental disabilities, which helps ensure success in their housing situation.
Individuals with developmental disabilities who speak up on their own behalf or behalf of others
Self advocates may use a variety of ways to communicate their choices, opinions, rights and needs. In terms of housing, they can offer an understanding of their own experience; share the history of institutional living and the vision for the future of community living; and define what inclusive housing means for them. By participating in planning and design processes they can help break down stereotypes and assumptions about what people with developmental disabilities can do, and what kind of tenant or homeowner they can be. Involving self advocates in creating inclusive housing provides vital ‘reality feedback’ about what will work and not work.
Local community living agencies / service providers
Local non-profits or companies that provide services for people with developmental disabilities and their families
These agencies receive contract funding from CLBC and may also fundraise and/or receive funding from government agencies to provide other programs. They may provide advocacy or planning services as well as funded programs. Some have allied foundations that may own land or other assets suitable for housing.
Local community councils
Set up in each area with a CLBC office, to give voice to self advocates, families, service providers and community members
The intent is that they play a major role in achieving the CLBC vision of communities of belonging, lives with connection through collaboration and awareness to support inclusion of people with developmental disabilities.
People who help create inclusive housing
Here is where you will find expertise in designing, building, renovating and managing housing units. Look for land, existing buildings, knowledge, funding and technical expertise here:
The provincial umbrella organization representing non-profit housing providers across BC
It has a mandate to provide research, advocacy and education about non-profit housing in BC. Programs include an annual educational conference and training for housing providers and community agencies with the capacity to build projects.
Local non-profit housing associations
Local non-profit societies that develop, re-develop and operate non-market and affordable housing projects
They may be potential partners for local community living agencies in developing inclusive housing.
A form of housing that might be suitable for the inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities
People who live in co-ops own and occupy the building collectively, with democratic decision-making built into the governance structure. The values underpinning co-ops overlap with the values of community living. Housing co-ops have been around in BC for over 40 years.
Another form of housing that might be suitable for the inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities
This is a newer approach using intentional community design that combines the independence and autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of common amenities and a village-style support system. Co-housing developments are usually small and local in nature, and may be a good values-match.
Private developers and landlords
Private individuals or companies that own land, build projects and have expertise in the planning, design, building and operation of housing – whether single family homes, rental apartments or strata projects
They are potential partners for community living agencies in developing inclusive housing.
The legal bodies that are elected by the owners of the units in a strata (condo) development and that manage a strata development on their behalf
They may be potential partners with local community living agencies in creating inclusive housing.
People who regulate and fund inclusive housing
There are quite a few public agencies that fund and regulate housing – including inclusive housing. This is where you will find funding, as well as land or other existing assets. Look for administrative processes for things like zoning and eligibility for various programs here, along with expertise about how paid supports for people with developmental disabilities work:
A large provincial crown corporation with many programs designed to provide safe, affordable housing for people in need
Social/non-market housing in BC is typically delivered with support from BC Housing. Types of funding include pre-development funding and financing of new or re-development projects; operation of housing portion of services; rental subsidies; and home modifications to improve accessibility. It has several programs to support eligible people with disabilities to access affordable housing, as well as a list of development consultants and ‘back-end’ support to help projects through the process.
The province announced new funding for affordable rental housing in September 2016, which includes people with developmental disabilities as one of its target groups.
A federal government agency that funds affordable rental housing
CMHC provides both financial and non-financial support for affordable housing, This includes the new Affordable Rental Innovation Fund, which looks for innovation in design or financing, and for projects with easy access to transit and that serve vulnerable groups; and the Seed Funding Program which provides pre-development funds and financing to support the creation of new affordable housing units.
Local municipalities/community planners
Your locally elected municipal government – city or town or regional district
Municipal government can be an ally and enabler of housing projects. They control land-use planning and zoning in the community. Sometimes they have land they may donate, lease or sell. They can also support projects through measures such as tax exemptions, waiving development permit costs and fast-tracking applications. Some may also have grants or other ways to support affordable housing.
The provincial crown corporation that funds supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
CLBC sets criteria about what types of housing arrangements are suitable for the provision of such supports. Criteria are designed to maximize the choice, control, flexibility, safety and inclusion of individuals in their housing situations. CLBC can also provide forecasts about housing needs; and help bring potential partners together to build provincial and community capacity around inclusive and innovative housing for people with developmental disabilities.
There is a CLBC office in your local community or region (link to new Local Offices page). Staff there can help put potential partners in touch with each other around local inclusive housing possibilities. They can explain the CLBC criteria and share their knowledge about the local community living sector.
Banks, credit unions, or mortgage brokers that lend money for the construction or ownership of homes or buildings
Local credit unions in particular may be a values-match in terms of funding for inclusive housing. For example, VanCity offers pre-development funds for ‘impact real estate’ or real estate projects with a social purpose.
Foundations and service clubs
Private organizations with funding mandates that may include people with disabilities
Many communities have service clubs or local foundations that fund projects to promote strong communities. Some service clubs, such as the Lions or Kiwanis, have a long history of providing funding for projects to benefit people with disabilities. Provincial or national foundations may also be potential funders.
Who do I contact?
To start the conversation about how you can get involved in inclusive housing, contact your local CLBC office to speak to the Director of Regional Operations or Manager.
You can also reach out to one of the groups listed on this page.