Amherstburg parents worried about affordable housing for their adult daughter with Down syndrome are organizing a public meeting hoping to connect with families confronting similar challenges.
Lois and Greg Bebbington, who are both in their late 60s, say they are concerned about what will happen to their 38-year-old daughter, Stacy, when they pass away or are otherwise unable to care for her.
“We need her to be self-sufficient when it comes to housing so that when things happen to us, they just don’t take her and dump her somewhere,” said Greg. “Hopefully, she’ll outlive us. That’s what your kids are supposed to do.”
The Bebbingtons are not alone. The issue is “creating a crisis for a number of families” leaving them feeling “quite hopeless,” the executive director of Community Living Essex County recently told The Windsor Star.
There are more than 5,000 people on the wait list for affordable housing in Windsor-Essex, including as many as 864 families seeking affordable housing in Amherstburg. The average wait for a single person is eight to 10 years but the wait can be considerably longer when you require housing with supports for adults with intellectual or physical disabilities.
“People think that one day something magical will happen,” said Lois. “I don’t think there’s any magic out there and I don’t think people know the hard truth that is out there.”
She receives Ontario Disability Support Funding and also Passport Funding, which can be used to help cover the cost of aid workers but not rent or mortgage payments. While there are programs to help with down payments on houses, it is difficult for Stacy to obtain a mortgage in her name given her income sources.
The Bebbingtons don’t have answers, just ideas and hope.
In an ideal world, they would like to see Stacy and two or three others in similar circumstances come together and build a home and then pool their passport money to hire support workers from agencies like St. Francis Advocates, Christian Horizons or Community Living Essex County.
They hope that by connecting with other Amherstburg families facing similar challenges they can come up with a creative solution so their daughter doesn’t wind up far too young in a nursing home, away from her friends, her support network, familiar places and the things she likes to do.
“We want to prevent that from happening to our daughter and if we can help a few others along the way, that’s great,” said Greg. “It can be a win-win for everyone.”
The public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, on the second floor of the Libro Centre. RSVP to Lois at 519-995-6136.