Going to college, getting a job and moving out on your own are rites of passage for most young adults. Unfortunately, for many people with disabilities it seems like these opportunities are unattainable. According to Forbes Magazine, the average rent in Minneapolis is $965, making it the second worst city for rental property in the nation. It’s no wonder that many people with disabilities find themselves with limited options when it comes to living arrangements. For many the only choices they have are to live in group residential settings or with family members. But not for Kenny*. He has successfully overcome the obstacles of affording rent and learning the skills needed to strike out on his own.
That’s not to say it was easy for him to move from a group home to his own apartment. While Kenny attended transition school, he lived in a group home with two other guys. After living there for nearly three years, he became comfortable with this arrangement and had no desire to move out on his own. It wasn’t until 2010 that Kenny and his team started getting him ready for life on his own. There were three main obstacles he had to overcome. First, he had to demonstrate that he was responsible enough to handle challenges without having direct supervision all the time, which took him over a year to achieve. Second, he had to learn the basic skills that it would take to live on his own, such as, making meals, getting himself ready for work or going out, and managing the daily routines that keep him healthy (such as taking medication, etc.) Finally, he had to have stable employment for over a year. Things started to take off in 2012, when Kenny landed a job at Cub Foods.
Once Kenny was ready for life on his own, he moved into an assisted living apartment and transferred to a grocery store about a quarter mile from his home. Now he doesn’t have to rely solely on public transportation, which saves him five hours a week of commute-time and allows him to work more hours. He received some support obtaining furniture and household items from Bridging, a local nonprofit organization that assists people to transition into homes, and from his friends and staff. Now he is successfully living in his own apartment, with minimal assistance from a staff person who provides support and assistance with budgeting and paying bills. For the first time in his life he has complete control over any money left after paying his bills.
Kenny has really been enjoying life on his own. But what does he say is the best thing about it? Having his friends over whenever he wants! Congratulations to Kenny for his hard work and commitment to achieving independence at last!
*Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.