Maryanne started to attend Loveland in 2009. She lives with her mom in North Port and can't wait for the Loveland Village to be completed so she can move into an apartment with her best friends. She is currently taking Health & Safety Class, Fitness, Mosaics, Contracts, and Computer Lab. Her favorite class is Mosaics class because she gets the be creative while making things. Outside of Loveland, Maryanne participates in Special Olympics Bowling and Swimming, and loves going to the movies. Her all-time favorite thing to do at Loveland is to participate in the Follies. Maryanne says, "I love the Follies because you get to audition and be in the show and express yourself".
"Friendly staff who cares deeply about the students and a beautiful well-kept facility."
This is the first generation of people with developmental disabilities who will outlive their parents or their parents’ ability to be caretakers. Many of those Loveland serves are forty or older, and yes, even in their seventies. In the past, many parents were told by doctors that their developmentally disabled child would be lucky to live past thirty. This was a time when many people with developmental disabilities were institutionalized, sitting in a room doing little, if anything. Oftentimes, they would spend six hours a day doing piecework for very sub-minimum wages in “sheltered workshops.”
Today, many people with developmental disabilities are living longer due to modern medicine and a continued growth in well-being and self-esteem. We see adults with developmental disabilities as productive citizens: making informed decisions in their lives and becoming more involved in their communities: working for local businesses, volunteering for other organizations (Loveland students were awarded “The Governor’s Points of Light Award” in 2004 for their community service; over 45,000 volunteer hours since 1999), going to Loveland’s campus for continuing education, etc.
It’s estimated that over 70% of adults with developmental disabilities still live at home with parents who are now in their seventies, eighties and nineties. Imagine how hard it is to be a caretaker at those ages. And, imagine the concern you would have about the future of your disabled adult-child if something were to happen to you. Nearly every parent we’ve met with throughout the state tells us their greatest fear is: not knowing “what’s going to happen to my son or daughter when I’m gone?”
How Did We Get Here?
In the 1970’s, people with mental illness and people with developmental disabilities were “deinstitutionalized” with little thought given and no action taken to create housing for all those who needed a place to live. Unfortunately, because little was done since then to provide housing opportunities, many people with mental illness are still homeless today and being served by the county jails and local hospitals. This not only creates huge financial drain on our local communities and the state, it provides little, if any, solution to the problem.
Most people with developmental disabilities who were deinstitutionalized were fortunate to return home to live with their parents. Many so-called “experts” felt that people with developmental disabilities would be lucky to live past forty, thereby leading parents to believe that they would outlive their disabled adult children. In fact, because adults with developmental disabilities are living longer, the exact opposite is taking place.
Where Are We Now?
As parents pass away or are no longer able to be caretakers, people with developmental disabilities find themselves faced with the prospect of needing a place to live. As you know, in the state of Florida, when parents pass away, people with developmental disabilities become “wards of the state.” The state’s solution is to move that person to an “empty bed” wherever there may be one available. Imagine just losing your parents and then having the state move you to a place, often a group home, where you have no friends and/or support system. One generally believes that the brother, sister or other relative would be the new caretaker. But, that rarely works because it is such a drastic change of lifestyle. So again, it’s up to the state to find a place for this person to live. Maybe a group home?
With all the continuing Medicaid Waiver service provision funding cuts, group homes throughout the state are shutting down. Most group homes are very staff intensive (sometimes two staff per six residents for 24 hrs, 7 days per week) and heavily dependent on Medicaid Waiver Residential Habilitation funding. Every MW cut increases the possibility of another group home closure. We saw that when Governor Scott cut the rates between April 1stand April 16th.
So, where will the state move someone with a developmental disability who lost his parent as we’re seeing group homes beds become less available? Will the same thing happen to this population as we see happening with people with mental illness? Imagine people with developmental disabilities, i.e., Down Syndrome, ending up as part of our homeless population.
Loveland’s Solution: The Loveland Village
The LovelandVillage will help provide this much needed housing and do it for less money than the state will fund in moving someone to a group home. In fact, when the Village is operating, the state will save over $1 million in Medicaid Waiver transportation costs every year thereafter. And, the Village will initially provide housing for 70 people with developmental disabilities.
Currently, LovelandCenter provides a private sector alternative to doing Florida's work in helping people with developmental disabilities (other states pay government workers to provide these services). Only 36% of our funding is derived from state funding. The private sector provides 59% through tuition, donations from our community, and local foundations. SarasotaCounty provides 5%.
Imagine how much Florida (or even the country) and its taxpayers will save if there were other places modeled after the LovelandVillage or other planned residential communities throughout the entire state. And that doesn’t even account for the money Florida will save by preventing the potential homelessness this generation of people with developmental disabilities may face.
The LovelandVillage is shovel-ready! SarasotaCounty approved all the zoning and civil engineering requirements needed to “break ground.” When built, the LovelandVillage will serve as a planned residential community for people with developmental disabilities. Each apartment unit will be self-contained (have its own kitchen, laundry and bathrooms). Our projected Operating Pro Forma has rent in the range of $225 - $340 per bedroom, far less than any apartment you can rent in our area, and easily affordable by people with developmental disabilities without any governmental subsidies!!!
We believe that all citizens, regardless of disability, have the right to make informed decisions in their lives. This includes the right to choose where you want to live, within one’s means. Therefore, LovelandCenter will neither require that those we serve live in the Village, nor require those that live in the Village use our other services. People living in the Village will be free to come and go as they please. There will be no more restrictions on a tenant living in the Village than there would normally be for anyone living in an apartment. And, just like any other “over 55” or “golf” community, people will be able to live around their friends.
The LovelandVillage will also have a Community Center with a commercial kitchen so that civic and other organizations may come to the LovelandVillage to meet. We want a constant connection between the people living in the Village and people in the greater community. More importantly, the 2ndfloor of the Community Center will be used by Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota and Charlotte County’s Sheriff and Fire departments as a staging area in case of a natural disaster affecting our area.