Housing is a critical force in everyone's life.
The long and arduous journey of families who have a loved one with an intellectual disability to find appropriate housing has spanned decades - from the days of living in institutions to today, when the goal of personal dignity and inclusion within a community are at last reachable.
Last September, the ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Health, and Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) approached various stakeholders including members of CLTO and LIGHTS to study the province’s developmental services programs. Results of these consultations have been included in the newly published paper “Journey to Belonging: Choice and Inclusion – Developmental Services Reform Framework.”
Choice and Inclusion are what have driven and inspired LIGHTS since its inception. Now, the provincial government has announced plans on doing the same – across all of Ontario - by building a system that is more responsive to people’s needs, and that supports greater choice and flexibility for people over the course of their lives.
This is how LIGHTS has always operated, with great success, and now the province has a 10 year plan to make it easier for families to access information and services, reduce assessment times, strengthen funding flexibility, and simplify administrative processes.
Most sources of private funding for programs such as LIGHTS are centered in Toronto, and that reality has prevented many LIGHTS-like programs from springing up outside Toronto. Increased and better-measured funding from the Ontario government would help many more families see their loved ones settled in long-term, sustainable homes of their choice, in communities they know and love. Now more than ever, it is time to offer families of people with intellectual disabilities real choices, genuine community inclusion, and long-term, sustainable housing – in the province of Ontario!
For the last ten years, LIGHTS has established and put into practice all the goals and principles currently being planned out by the government. LIGHTS has accomplished so much and continues to be a leader in helping families develop residential supports in their communities.
To date, 81 men and women have been given new lives, living outside their parents’ homes, working, and contributing to their communities. In addition, thousands of families receive support annually as they reach out for resources, advice, and direction.