Dun­das group home ad­vo­cates will con­tinue, de­spite fund­ing re­jec­tion

Chal­lenged adults would be housed with ac­tive se­niors, scholar stu­dents

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - TEVIAH MORO tmoro@thes­pec.com 905-526-3264 | @Te­vi­ahMoro

A Dun­das-based group hop­ing to ex­pand hous­ing op­tions for de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled adults has failed to land pro­vin­cial fund­ing for its lat­est pitch de­spite high­pro­file sup­port.

The pro­posal, called At Home With Friends, didn’t make the cut out of 69 ap­pli­ca­tions sub­mit­ted to the De­vel­op­men­tal Ser­vices Hous­ing Task Force.

“Pro­fes­sion­als and lay per­sons found our pro­posal to be an ex­cel­lent one, and one which met or ex­ceeded all the (task force’s) cri­te­ria,” Martha Fox, one of the ef­fort’s main pro­po­nents, said this week.

The Hamil­ton Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, McMaster Univer­sity, Mo­hawk Col­lege, Catholic Fam­ily Ser­vices, Sal­va­tion Army and oth­ers backed the pro­posal.

“Need­less to say we are dis­cour­aged but not giving up at this point. Our fam­i­lies are tak­ing the rest of the sum­mer to con­sider op­tions and new direc­tions,” Fox added.

In March, the group pitched At Home With Friends to the task force, which was look­ing for in­no­va­tive hous­ing mod­els that could be repli­cated else­where in an ef­fort to cut back a hous­ing back­log.

In 2014, there were 14,326 On­tar­i­ans with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties wait­ing for places to live, the au­di­tor gen­eral re­ported.

The Min­istry of Com­mu­nity and So­cial Ser­vices task force se­lected six projects, which will re­ceive $2 mil­lion over two years in fund­ing.

They in­clude one in Lambton County for two peo­ple; one in East­ern On­tario that in­volves Al­go­nquin Col­lege; an­other in Ot­tawa in­volv­ing three agen­cies and 12 apart­ments; a pro­ject in Ot­tawa led by the Coali­tion des fam­i­lies fran­co­phones d’Ot­tawa; a Com­mu­nity Liv­ing Es­sex County ef­fort that aims to cus­tom­ize liv­ing spa­ces through tech­nol­ogy; and a two-agency model in York Re­gion for eight peo­ple.

Twelve projects were funded dur­ing the pro­ject’s first call for pro­pos­als.

Fox and oth­ers have tried for years to establish a safe and nearby res­i­dence for their chil­dren. The prov­ince re­jected an ear­lier pitch for an 18-bed Dun­das Liv­ing Cen­tre.

The par­ents’ fear is that when they die, their chil­dren — who live with a range of de­vel­op­men­tal chal­lenges — will be sent to live far away from their peers and rel­a­tives.

At Home With Friends sought about $1 mil­lion in op­er­a­tional fund­ing over two years to house and sup­port eight rel­a­tively high-needs ten­ants.

Post-sec­ondary schol­ar­ship stu­dents and “well se­niors” are added to the mix as “good neigh­bours.” The stu­dents get free tu­ition and rent in ex­change for of­fer­ing the spe­cial-needs ten­ants with 15 to 20 hours a week in sup­port and com­pan­ion­ship.

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