By Ron Christian, Assistant Executive Director of Community Living
Families will sometimes establish a Special Needs trust for their child with a disability. Such a trust can be an important tool in meeting the financial needs of their adult child when the family is no longer able to do so. One option not often considered is to put the family home into a trust for the child. Partnering with a provider agency such as The Arc Baltimore could enable an individual to stay in the home. Furthermore, it allows a son or daughter to maintain the friendships, natural supports and relationships established in their neighborhood, including neighbors’ homes, places of worship, stores, restaurants, etc. It supports their continued participation in activities within the community they know. Says one family member, Karen Joyce, “My cousin, Karen Mugowski, has cerebral palsy and has been able to continue living in her lifelong home with the help of The Arc Baltimore. We can only imagine how traumatic it might have been for her to lose both her mother and her home at the same time.”
As a housing model, The Arc Baltimore provides staffing and needed support services that are funded by the Developmental Disabilities Administration for adults who have remained in their family home. This is possible when one or two other individuals share the home as well. This is what we do for Karen’s cousin who now has a roommate living at the house with her. Essentially, housemates and sometimes even the family member pay board costs to the trust. This enables a self-sustaining arrangement where the payments fund ongoing property taxes, maintenance and repair. Additionally, the home is State licensed as an Alternative Living Unit (ALU), a residential program for individuals with increased needs for supervision and support. The State determines the house as safe and in good repair. Finally, The Arc Baltimore’s Maintenance Department coordinates contractors to provide for upkeep and improvements to the home.
The Arc Baltimore has many years of experience in working with trustees to make this possible. As a housing model, it can be quite successful and ensures peace of mind for both families and supported individuals.