Safe and loving homes—a must for helping people with IDD thrive

Twins with developmental disabilities standing on the balcony of their home at AbleLight Village

At AbleLight, our history goes back over a century, with 118 years of serving the disability community under our belts. And one support we’ve offered from day one—and still do today—is helping provide safe and loving homes for the people we serve.

Our mission is to help people with developmental disabilities thrive, and to do that, the people we serve need more than just places to live. They need homes where they feel truly at peace; empowered to make their own decisions—including their own mistakes—without fear or judgement; and safe, loved, and supported at every turn.

Unfortunately, people with disabilities face a number of challenges when it comes to housing that people without disabilities just don’t. Things like a lack of housing that’s accessible—for instance, doorways that aren’t wide enough for wheelchairs, or facilities with too many stairs and no elevators. People with disabilities often live on a fixed income and are priced out of many, if not most housing markets. And, unfortunately, there’s still a lot of discrimination against people with disabilities too.

That’s why we’re working to break down those barriers and ensure there are more options for people with developmental disabilities to choose the home of their dreams—whatever that looks like for them.

“Since Jenni came to AbleLight, I have seen her very much blossom,” says Tawnya, the Area Director over Jenni’s home.

“My favorite thing about AbleLight is everything,” says Jenni.

Host homes

Host homes (also called family home agency, life sharing, or shared living, depending on which state you’re in) are a living arrangement where people with disabilities move in with an individual or family in the community. This kind of arrangement allows the person supported to be more integrated in the community, but—perhaps even more importantly—allows them to become part of a family. Chris in Colorado wanted nothing more than to be part of a loving family, but after his grandparents died, he struggled to find a place he belonged. Until he moved in with Roma and her family as part of our host home program. Now, Chris is thriving. He has a job. He goes on vacations with Roma and her family. Because he IS part of the family.

“She’s the most best mom I ever had,” says Chris.

Supported living services

For some people with disabilities, living alone or with a roommate is their goal, and supported living services can be a big help in making that dream come true. With supported living services, people live in their own home or apartment and receive the customized supports they need to thrive, which could include anything from help keeping their place clean to money management and bill-paying to lessons in cooking and meal-prep. Jordan in Oregon is more than capable of living on his own, but he’s glad to have AbleLight available to give him an extra nudge when he needs it.

“AbleLight has helped me with appointments, money, and becoming more independent,” he says.

AbleLight Village

Recognizing that the world still needed more options for people with disabilities, AbleLight embarked on a mission of innovation—to create a residential community where people of all abilities could live side by side in an integrated, inclusive setting. And so AbleLight Village was born. These communities come with a plethora of benefits for the people who live there, including accessible, affordable housing; a Christian environment; and the ability to live independently while still being surrounded with a vibrant, active community. Our first AbleLight Village opened in Victoria, Minnesota in 2020, and we are currently moving full steam ahead with additional projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California.

At AbleLight, we aim to support the whole person by providing the personalized supports each person needs to thrive. And having a place where you belong provides the necessary foundation for growth and happiness. And while there are a few of the housing supports AbleLight provides today, there’s no telling what we may expand our services to include in the future. Because people with disabilities are as unique and varied as anyone else, and they deserve every opportunity to live the life they dream of—including living in a safe, loving home.