Special Needs Housing, and the Benefits of Owning a Home in a Friendly Neighborhood

Mark Roth, founder of Cottage Foundation, shares his passion and devotion behind the Luna Azul project in this recent 2-part blog:  
A friend asked me if our Phoenix project, Luna Azul, differs in any meaningful way from the housing options that presently exist for adults with special needs. I told her that, while I’m aware of many housing solutions throughout the country for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, none that I have found offer the residents and family the benefits available with our project. This is why I am so passionate about developing Luna Azul and, hopefully, many other communities like it.
The ownership component of our project is indeed unique. This is important for two giant reasons (and many smaller ones).
Holding title to a home ensures lower and more predictable costs, permanence, and flexibility.
First, ownership ensures permanence and cost certainties; neither of which are present in any rental model. How much will rent increase over time? What if the owner of the property decides to sell the building(s) and land?  What if the owner decides to get out of the business? Living in a rental model, my daughter (or her Special Needs Trust) will have no equity in the property, will be captive to rent increases, and will have little or no say in who her roommates are (this is a huge issue). And since most rental models include services, what happens if the services are lacking? Right after move-in or much later? Her only remedy then would be to move.
If I’m alive to help, finding suitable alternative living situation for Emma will be very difficult, as the need far outstrips the supply and the problem is worsening rapidly.  But if Emma has to move after I’m dead, who will take the time to look after her? Where will she end up? Will she become a burden on her adult sister? I’ve literally (not figuratively) been awake at night worrying about this.
By holding title to the home, all these issues disappear. The owner, usually a parent or Special Needs Trust, has a fixed cost (which, over a lifetime, will be FAR less than renting), has equity in the property, and has a permanent housing solution for their family member.  The owner along with the resident can choose and replace roommates. And importantly, the owner can hire and replace caregivers, reducing the likelihood of institutional abuses and neglect. For us, ownership is a much better solution than renting.
Stay tuned for Pt. II, “Ownership in a community of like-minded friends is better, fiscally and emotionally, than isolated living”, to hear the other giant component of our project is indeed unique. 


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