Safe and adequate housing is the cornerstone of living independently. In Orange County, where the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is higher than the monthly incomes of most residents with disabilities, finding housing is a huge challenge. The purpose of the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) Shared Housing program is to give consumers an affordable option for meeting their shelter needs. Marisol Marure Leon, the Housing Services Coordinator says that she feels fortunate to be in a position that allows her to help people in need and that playing a part in someone finding a home is very rewarding.
Individuals with disabilities, who reside in, or would like to live in, Orange County, are eligible to participate in the Shared Housing program. Additionally, consumers must be 18 years of age or older. A monthly income of $900 or more is highly recommended so that roommates will be able to meet the qualification guidelines for more affordable apartments.
For more information about the shared housing program call 714.621.3300 or complete the online form.
Potential consumers are referred to the DMC Shared Housing program by sources such as 211, the county’s information and referral service, and by social workers, community-based organizations, and by word-of-mouth. At times, family members or close friends may also refer potential consumers. Often, individuals are self-referred to the Shared Housing program.
How the Shared Housing Program Works
The Housing Services Coordinator completes the intake process with eligible persons, who are interested in shared housing opportunities. As with other programs of the Dayle McIntosh Center, participants are required to develop an independent living plan (ILP) or goal statement with corresponding tasks to be accomplished and targeted completion dates. This plan is the guide for service delivery.
In the initial interview with a Consumer, the Housing Services Coordinator helps to develop a profile of his or her housing preferences. Factors such as areas where he or she would like to live, daily routine, important amenities, and the need for accessibility or other accommodations are included. This profile helps to determine who may or may not be a good match.
The Dayle McIntosh Center hosts monthly “mixers” so that participants in the Shared Housing program have an opportunity to meet and get to know each other. Important issues are discussed at this time such as the need for a roommate agreement, filling out joint applications, sharing a lease, resolving conflict, methods for maintaining autonomy, defining who is responsible for chores and more.
The Housing Services Coordinator identifies appropriate housing listings for referral to Consumers, who have agreed to enter into a shared housing arrangement. The Coordinator attempts to meet with property managers prior to referring consumers to inform them of the Dayle McIntosh Center and the Shared Housing program. Occasionally, when Consumers agree to share housing, Staff may need to pursue community resources to aid with move-in costs. Following a placement, the Housing Services Coordinator continues to contact Consumers until stability is apparent. Should problems arise; the Coordinator will offer mediation assistance in an effort to resolve conflict.
Consumers may remain active in the Shared Housing program until desired outcomes are reached. If a Consumer fails to participate over a specified period of time or voluntarily withdraws from the program, the case file will be closed. Individuals, who move out of the service area, are also terminated. Following case closure, Consumers have the opportunity to complete a satisfaction survey in order to express their opinions of the effectiveness of the Shared Housing program.
Program Success Story
The Housing Services Coordinator was contacted by a Consumer who was homeless. He had been living with a roommate for 3 years when he was unexpectedly evicted and had been sleeping in his car for approximately 2 weeks. The Consumer had been placing calls to landlords who were renting rooms but had been unsuccessful in finding shelter. The Consumer said that he was scared and that he had never been in a situation like this before. He was worried that his phone was going to be shut off because he was on a limited minutes plan. The Consumer said that he had eaten but that he was running out of money. The Coordinator told him about Mary’s Kitchen, which is an organization that provides breakfast and a hot lunch to the homeless daily. There the Consumer would also be able to shower. The man was also informed about the free government cell phone program, budget mobile. The Housing Coordinator arranged for the Consumer to observe a phone call to a potential landlord so that he would know how to seek information about a room for rent. As a result of these efforts, the Consumer’s search was successful and he negotiated a shared housing arrangement.
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