Planning for a future home for your family member is one of the most important aspects of planning. Over the years, your son or daughter has known the comfort and security that comes from living in your family home. The family home has provided a sense of belonging and security that your son or daughter will want in any future home that they may have.
Before reviewing some possible future home options, it is important to think more carefully about what home provides to all of us. For most of us, home is a place:
Where people exercise control over their daily routines, including who enters to visit and stay;
That is private and which matches each person’s chosen lifestyle;
Where people who share a home live in some kind of chosen and mutual relationship with each other;
Where people have a connection to their communities
That provides some type of legal right to belong (for example, as a home owner or a tenant in a leased apartment).
When thinking about a future home for your son or daughter, try to keep these important points in mind. The other key point for your adult child is support and assistance that he or she may need to be able to live in his or her home. The type and amount of support will vary from person to person.
What are Some Possible Options for a Future Home?
There are a number of possible options to consider. Below is a brief description of these options. Later in this part, we explore in more detail the option of planning for your son or daughter to have a home of his or her own.
Living with Another Family Member. Some families will consider having your son or daughter with a disability move into the home of another family member (such as a brother or sister). This option can provide a home in a place that is usually familiar to your son or daughter. There are, however, a number of questions to consider before choosing this option:
Is this where your son or daughter wants to live?
Is the other family member committed for the long term? Is there a backup plan if the living arrangement does not work out?
Is the location of the family member’s home suitable? Is there space available for another person to live comfortably?
Will there be extra cost of family member? How will these costs be covered?
Will your son or daughter with a disability have opportunities to be involved in his or her community?
Will services be required (for example, relief support, support during the day, etc.)?
Is the family member, his or her spouse and children, fully aware of the wishes and needs of your son or daughter with a disability?
Living with an ‘Alternate Family’. Under this option, your son or daughter would go in live with another family. This option is part of a government program called an Alternate Family Living Arrangement (AFLA). The provincial government provides funding for alternate families provide a home and support to people with a disability. In these arrangements, an alternate family is not permitted to have more than two individuals with disabilities living in their home. This option can provide your son or daughter with a home environment as he or she would live in a typical home in a neighbourhood or community. The questions listed above for living with another family member are also relevant to this option.
Living in a Residential Facility. Residential facilities are government licensed buildings that provide housing and support to groups of people with disabilities who are usually unrelated. In New Brunswick, there are three main types of facilities for adults: group homes (or community residences) that are operated by non-profit organizations; special care homes that are for-profit operations, and nursing homes. These facilities are subject to rules that are established by the government of New Brunswick. The most widely used facilities are the for-profit special care homes. If you are considering a residential facility as an option, it is important that you (and your son or daughter with a disability) find out as much about the facility as possible. There are also a number of potential drawbacks of residential facilities that you need to consider, including:
The facility may not have the look and feel of a home or at least the kind of home that your son or daughter is used to.
Facilities can have six or more people living together with different personalities, wishes and needs. Also, people may be different ages (for example, some may be seniors while others are younger adults).
The “rules” of the facility are usually set by the people that operate the facility. This may place some restrictions on your son or daughter’s ability to make choices about his or her daily activities, and whom she or he wishes to spend time with.
The facility may be in a neighbourhood or community that is not familiar to your son or daughter. Sometimes, people are “placed” in a facility in another community
How Can My Son or Daughter Have His or Her Own Home?
The first three options noted above all involve your family member with a disability living in someone else’s home or facility. Increasingly, adults with disabilities (and their families) are interested in exploring the possibility of establishing their own homes in the community. This could involve your son or daughter living in his or her own house, apartment, condominium, town-house or “granny suite.”
This option provides more flexibility and opportunity to design a living arrangement that suits the wishes and needs of your adult child. Also, it allows for the strong possibility of creating a home that provides the kinds of things that we value in a home.
How Can We Make This Option Happen?
The own home option will likely require some detailed planning in order to develop the best possible living arrangement for your son or daughter. You will benefit greatly from some help in developing a good plan and then putting that plan into effect.
A “network of support” can provide this help. This is a small group of people who agree to support your son or daughter to achieve his or her goals. Members of a network can help in many ways. They can help find affordable housing, plan for and arrange the support your son or daughter will need in the home, manage money for housing and support services, and help monitor the living arrangement.
You may also get help from an agency in your area that helps people with disabilities live in their own homes. Unfortunately, not every area has an agency that provides this kind of service. NBACL is working to make this kind of help available in areas throughout New Brunswick.
Planning for Affordable and Adequate Housing
One key part of your son or daughter having a home of his or her own is affordable and suitable housing. Many people with disabilities live on fixed (and often low) incomes and may need assistance with housing costs. Here are some ways to plan for affordable housing:
Apply for Government Housing Programs. The government of New Brunswick has programs that assist people who are in need of affordable rental housing. One program involves accessing housing units that are owned directly by the province or by non-profit housing organizations in local communities. Another program involves “rent supplements” that are paid to landlords for people who cannot afford regular ‘market’ rents. In all of these programs, people pay 30% of their total income towards rent. People must apply to be considered for these programs. Eligibility is based on the person’s income and their level of priority as determined by government. These programs usually have waiting lists. For more information about these programs, contact the Housing Branch of the Government of New Brunswick in your area (check in the ‘blue’ pages of your telephone book under ‘Province of New Brunswick’ and then ‘Housing Services’ for the number to call).
Use Family Assets. Some families may want to use their own assets to provide a home for their adult child. This can involve leaving the family home to be used by the family member with a disability or using some family assets to purchase or finance a home. There are many types of housing options to consider including a single family dwelling, townhouse, condominium, duplex, and so on. This approach will be much more affordable if the home is mortgage free or has only a small mortgage to re-pay. Planning options include:
Transferring the ownership of a home to a family member with a disability.
Making your family member a joint owner of a home with another person
Providing for a “life estate” (the right to own and use of property for a person’s lifetime).
Creating a housing trust. A housing trust provides a legal right for the beneficiary of the trust to occupy the home while leaving the management responsibilities in the hands of trustees. Trustees can also be given the authority to collect “rent” from the beneficiary or possibly other occupants of the home. Trustees can also be given some discretion to change the housing arrangement if the beneficiary’s needs or circumstances change.
Supplement Your Adult Child’s Income. You may also use your own assets to supplement your son or daughter’s income. If he or she is not receiving provincial income support benefits you can supplement income at any time and in any way you wish. If he or she is receiving income support benefits as a person who has been certified “disabled”, deaf or blind, you can supplement income by using a financial trust or a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Provincial rules allow money from a trust (up to $200,000 in value) or an RDSP to be used to supplement the income of a person with a disability. A trust or RDSP can be used to pay for housing expenses beyond what the person is able to afford from his or her own income. This can be done without affecting the person’s monthly cheque.
Share the Home to Share Living Expenses. Some people may want to share their home with another person and share the cost of housing. People with disabilities can share a home with another person with a disability or with someone who is providing support without having provincial income support benefits affected. It is important to make sure that people are compatible and able to live with one another before considering this option.