Individuals who experience disabilities are regularly denied basic human rights. It was 1963 when John F. Kennedy called for a “reduction of the number of persons confined to institution.” In 56 years, we have failed to develop a systematic, person-focused and inclusive approach to helping individuals live more independently and be active members of their respective communities.

As our region grapples with the need for more affordable housing, the disability community is often overlooked and left out of the conversation. More than 28 percent of adults who experience disability live in poverty – among the lowest for groups measured by the US Census Bureau. After decades of battling to find inclusive, independent living options, individuals and their families are in crisis. Families face a critical shortage of quality, affordable, accessible housing.

Without the option to move, live independently and be part of a community, individuals become further marginalized and isolated. Many remain at home with aging family members further exacerbating the crisis. According to Family Caregiver Alliance, approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults 18 years or older with a disability or illness. Of those caregivers, 34 percent are 65 years of age or older. As parents age without options for their loved ones, individuals with disabilities face uncertainty about where they will live when their family can no longer care for them.