Part 2: More Inclusive Housing Benefits our Communities, Not Just the Individual
Right now, all of us can relate to the rising cost of living and how challenging the housing market is becoming for renters and homeowners alike across BC and Canada. Even for the average person, earning the average income, housing is a challenge. After rent or mortgage payments and basic housing expenses, there is often little or no money left at the end of the month. We’d like you to close your eyes and imagine that all the challenges remain but in addition to that, you have an intellectual or developmental disability. This disability may mean that you have limited or no ability to work. It may mean more medical costs. As a result, your housing options become even more limited and life gets that much harder. By placing ourselves in the shoes of a person with a developmental disability, we can then start to understand why inclusive housing is so important for all of us.
What is Inclusive Housing?
The concept of housing inclusivity stretches far beyond just a person having access to a home. Inclusive housing is all about providing a home that makes participating in the community easier – including being in a safe and accessible neighborhood where the person can develop connections with others; being able to choose where the person would like to live; and being in a home where a person has access to the supports they need to live a good life. At the moment, achieving this definition of inclusive housing is challenging and often unattainable for most.
According to Inclusion BC, as of 2022, more than 5,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were looking for a home in BC. With the rising cost of housing, this number will likely continue to rise. While this statistic is important to highlight to demonstrate the scale of this issue, it is the individual stories that really make us all realize how important it is to focus on inclusive housing if we truly want to help people with developmental disabilities. If we want to build communities where everyone feels at home.
Shared Living Accommodations are Also Feeling the Impact
When a person with a developmental disability becomes an adult, many often seek out alternative living accommodations to gain independence and build new relationships across the community. At CVS, we work with Community Living BC (CLBC) to help people with disabilities find a shared living provider for their needs. With the rising cost of living and reduced availability of affordable housing options, it is increasingly becoming difficult to find shared living providers in our community.
Offering inclusive housing, in a shared living situation, can have a financial component to it but it also serves as a means of welcoming someone new into your home. In the past, caregivers who have opened their homes to people with a developmental disability have expressed how this has provided benefits to everyone in the family. These experiences are what makes a community thrive and what enables us to all be living and breathing Community Inclusion. To learn more about opening your heart and home to a person with a developmental disability, visit our Shared Living page.
What Will Nurture Greater Housing Inclusivity in Our Communities?
We may not all have space in our home to open our doors to someone with a developmental disability. However, we may still want to build inclusive communities and help. What does that look like and what can we all do?
Be an Advocate for Change
Every one of us can call on governments to promote and advocate for inclusive housing across our communities. We may think that we are only one person but if all of this did this, it would make a difference. People with developmental disabilities often need supplements to access the rental market. They also need to be included in housing developments and housing development planning. By advocating for these changes, we can all make a difference. As an agency, CVS advocates for the people we serve and with local governments to reinforce change. We encourage everyone who is passionate about this subject to do the same.
Spread the Word
One of the best things you can do during Community Inclusion Month is to talk to your family and friends about these issues. We are all talking about how unaffordable housing is right now, so why not add in how this is impacting people with developmental disabilities? Each person that raises awareness about this issue, is one more person that can help to make a difference.
Take some time to look into websites and watch videos about Inclusive Housing. Like My home. My community. developed by Inclusion Canada or watch the video below by Inclusion BC that highlights the stories of 12 individuals in BC, demonstrating the power of a home to someone’s life.
Let’s be advocates for change and be working towards inclusive communities – not just for the month of October but every single day.
To learn more about Inclusive Housing, get in touch with us at CVS.
And…stay tuned for the 3rd part of our 4-part series coming out next week – The Power of Social Enterprises.