JF&CS News Winter 2016

ScottMany of the clients we support have a goal to live independently. What this looks like for each individual varies, from the amount of support they receive to the number of housemates they have to where they prefer to live. JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities recognizes that living situations are not one size that fits all and, in response, we offer a variety of supported housing options. These options are available for potential new residents as well as for our current residents when they are ready to take the next step in their independent living.

Scott has lived independently for 18 years with support from JF&CS staff and his family. With diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and depression, Scott needed general assistance managing a weekly schedule, the time he spent using technology, budgeting, and creating a full social schedule. He first moved out of his family home when he went to college at Westfield State where he earned a degree in liberal studies. After graduating, he moved into a two-bedroom JF&CS Supported Housing apartment in Brighton with a roommate. While living there, Scott learned many independent living skills with assistance from JF&CS staff and eventually moved out of supportive housing into his own apartment with help from his personal network.

After five years, Scott wanted to return to JF&CS supportive housing to continue working on independent living skills and to ensure his well-being and happiness. He moved back into the apartment complex where he had previously lived, this time with a new roommate. Although he benefited from and enjoyed the supports the apartment provided, after several years, he realized he wanted a change of pace and started looking at other JF&CS housing models.

Scott decided to move to Chase Street, a JF&CS supported house with thirteen other residents in Newton. "I really liked the community at Chase Street," shared Scott. "A lot of the residents in my previous apartment complex did their own thing. But at Chase Street there are always people around interested in hanging out." Scott has also found that he has a lot of common interests with his housemates, particularly about movies and video games. "I love to watch movies, go out to eat, bowl, and play cards with my housemates," he said. Scott also enjoys the impromptu, casual social gatherings with his housemates and has kept in touch with a few of his friends from his apartment complex and spends time with them regularly.

Although living with thirteen housemates may seem like a lot, Scott says he feels like he's part of a community at Chase Street: "I like that having my own room gives me privacy and the opportunity to do my own thing whenever I want but I enjoy helping plan the menu each week for our large group dinners and helping cook." In addition to eating well, Scott likes the weekly group yoga classes and cooking group and feels like they help him lead a healthy lifestyle.

JF&CS staff also support Scott in working on self-identified goals. "I'm most proud of the skills I've gained in managing my money, sticking to a budget, and demonstrating impulse control." Abby Newton, Director of Residential Services, has also noticed Scott's growth: "In the five years I have been working with Scott, I have seen impressive growth in his ability to structure his free time, socialize with peers, manage his finances, and maintain vocational work. Scott's tenacity and ability to reflect on his progress have helped him enhance his quality of life."

Scott is just one example within our supportive housing models of the importance of choice and variety to support everyone's unique needs. A fourteen bedroom house would not be the right fit for everyone but it has helped Scott continue to enhance his social life as he grows more independent.

JF&CS Supported Housing currently has openings in Scott's house! Steps from Newton Centre, this beautiful home provides a variety of supports and amenities, including weekly professional house cleaning, daily group dinners, individualized resident support and training, a cooking club, and yoga classes. Many previous residents have transitioned from this home into a more independent setting with JF&CS follow-along supports, marking success for these folks and openings for others!

For those looking for supported housing in other communities, we also have residences with openings in Malden, Walpole, Norwood, and Brighton. These options include larger group settings (nine-fourteen individuals) such as Scott's home as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments and smaller group settings (three-five individuals).

All Supported Housing clients are included in Jewish holiday celebrations and a monthly Shabbat dinner at JF&CS. Many residents also participate in Beyond B'nai Mitzvah, a warm and inclusive study group that has been meeting weekly for several years.

Visit the Supported Housing webpage for more information.