April 11, 2014
Finger Lakes United Cerebral Palsy (FLUCP), Inc./Happiness House Finds Innovative Housing Opportunities For People With Disabilities
FLUCP, Inc./Happiness House has been most progressive with economic development in the Finger Lakes region, and in the 2013 RBJ, is ranked the 14th largest employer in Ontario County. The new and constantly evolving ways of providing housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities is happening at Happiness House. This is in keeping with the Governors plan of transformation which is making available housing opportunities for individuals who are interested and capable of living in a more independent and cost effective setting. One of the goals identified as part of this transformation agreement between New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In 2010, FLUCP, Inc./Happiness House opened a one of a kind transitional home. This 5,300 square foot eight person transitional residence equipped with eight efficiency apartments is owned by FLUCP, Inc./Happiness House campus in Canandaigua. Residents will volunteer, work or attend school outside the home. Happiness House is committed to providing lifelong opportunities for individuals with disabilities as they strive toward independence. To date, half of the individuals have moved out of the home and into their own apartment in the community, making available apartments for 4 new tenants.
Also, in 2013 and on the same campus Happiness House broke ground on a 20 unit handicap accessible apartment building for up to 24 individuals located at 2508 Happiness House Blvd. in Canandaigua, NY. Two of the apartments are fully accessible, and one is specifically designed for someone who is visually and/or hearing impaired. Ontario County will provide residents with affordable and accessible transportation via a bus route. Services will be available to each of the tenants who want or needs these services.
FLUCP, Inc./Happiness House was awarded $400,000 through Federal Home Loan Bank, and $2.4 million through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Homes & Community Renewal’s Unified Funding Application. This integrated apartment building will serve adults with traumatic brain injuries, adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, or any individual who is eligible for affordable housing. In addition, a $1.4 million grant was awarded from The New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, as well as very generous gifts from community funders who provided us with the funding for engineering and start up costs for this project.
This is a non-certified residence built in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Department of Health (DOH) and any other applicable regulations. The apartment complex will also be equipped with a community room, kitchen, laundry facilities, and office space. A walking trail with exercise equipment will connect the apartments with the main Happiness House building.
Happiness House will provide residents with services based on their individual needs, including case management, individualized training for independent living skills, wellness and money management education, pre-vocational training, assistance with job search, and direct care support.
Since June 2013, Michael Jorgenson as lived in the Transition House apartments, stating "The staff here are a great support. I'm getting stronger with my independence; it's a slow but steady progress. I like the apartments because they are nice, clean, and well maintained. It's a very homey environment."
Samantha “Sam” Shoemaker moved into the Transition House when it opened in February 2012 and has successfully moved out in February 2014 to a place of her in the community. "My time at the transitional house was great. I truly enjoyed getting to know Sandy and my other friends, as well as the staff. I have learned a lot to be independent. Like I learned to do my own banking, cooking, cleaning and also my job to schedule my own appointments," Sam said.
Johnny West would like to live in the new apartments. Johnny dreams of being closer to work and to his friends. Johnny said, “I’ve been living in the same place for a long time and would like to live in a brand new place. I could walk over to my job and to program, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the bus always being late.”
FLUCP, Inc./Happiness House is looking at ways to duplicate similar housing opportunities in Monroe County. To learn more and to find out how you can support this project, contact Tiffany Yancey, Associate Director of Residential Services at (585) 394-9510.
Happiness House- Finger Lakes Cerebral Palsy Association is a private nonprofit health and human service agency that has been serving communities in the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York since 1969. Today with sites in Geneva, Canandaigua, Gorham, and Waterloo, Happiness House offers an array of educational program, recreational and family support services for children and adults with and without disabilities who reside in Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates counties. On average Happiness House serves 1,000 individuals and their families each year.
Cheryl L. Coppola