The Steps to Independence

Please excuse my tardiness in the feature this week as I had some exciting news in my life. I am heading into my next chapter. A famous saying is to not put your eggs in one basket, and I certainly did not do that. I put in applications for different types of housing that I thought would be suitable for me. I had my interviews shortly after submitting applications and was told it would be anywhere from a few months to a few years, I just didn’t really expect the call to come in a few months.

As I said I didn’t put my eggs in one basket, but you don’t know what it is until you see it. I honestly think that is one of my anxieties in life is knowing what the living environment and then signing the lease and getting the keys. However, I feel that this next chapter was meant to be. The style of the home, the location in the development, the ability to be outdoors more. The pros outweighed the cons by far.

It is again in public housing, but it is more safe, decent and manageable than the last independent chapter prior. I did my research, asked questions, looked at everything. The process of admission was way better than that first independent chapter and just by the demeanor of the staff alone and how they invest in their tenants speaks volumes for me. Yes, there’s all kinds of public housing, the better opinion is the more local oversight you have, the better.

In the United States, public housing is financed by the Office of Housing and Urban Development, however it is controlled by housing authorities. At least a county or region has a housing authority, although some cities such as mine does, therefore the properties are locally managed and controlled and have local oversight on them. Also, because they are publicly funded AND managed, they are better regulated. This has been a proven fact and I see a world of difference in this regard. When there are local eyes than just a few days a week, the environment is better for all involved.  

Public Housing comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but can accommodate any family dynamic. Some of what is considered public housing is privately managed and while the manager and repair staff may be local, your oversight may be lackluster in regards as far as clean and safe homes may not be the case. Usually if the waiting list is lengthy, it means it is good housing especially in this regard. Take notice of things, don’t be wooed in what you are told. If you know people in the complex or mutual friends, ask them about their experience they have and whether they have had any issues there.

There are other programs that Public Housing Authorities have such as a Section 8 Voucher system, this is where you apply to be on a list to choose a voucher that can be used once granted to you by a accepting landlord where you would pay the same rate as public housing but the landlord is guaranteed the full version. This can take longer to receive one of these, sometimes several years until this occurs.

My thought to the autism community is this. Prepare for independence as soon as the individual is able to comprehend the skills needed, work on it consistently. If help is needed, seek it out as much as you can, because waiting lists are also lengthy. Educate yourself as much as you can of each resource available to autistics that you can grab knowledge of. As sad as it sounds, the next day is not always promised to us, and our treasured autistics could be without those they love. Then they be mixed up in the system and in an unwanted situation that they are not satisfied in or severely dislike. Ask your child if you can what they want to do and where they want to live when they become an adult, the answer will surprise you. I personally feel that education is key in making our autistics independent so that they can be productive, outgoing members of society that can be a part of a larger community.

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