We’ve moved away from hometowns and extended family. We’ve moved our families from our city centers to the suburbs. We leave our neighbors on the outside by going from garage to house, eschewing the front porch. We’ve moved our elderly, our people with low incomes and those with disabilities into developments, facilities and group homes; segregating and grouping based on needs and deficits
Removing our more vulnerable populations from the natural vigilance and support of family, friends and community increases the risk of their isolation, abuse and neglect. This removal from community incurs costs not just for our at-risk populations, but for the health and wellbeing of our society as a whole. Equity is lost when we deny diversity in our neighborhoods. The premise that a quality life for people at-risk equals removal from an extended and diverse community needs to be reevaluated.
“People crave comfort, people crave connection, and people crave community.
— Marianne Williamson
How we build neighborhoods that embrace the diversity of our elders, our community members with disabilities and those with lower income and how we thrive together in these neighborhoods are questions that need to be addressed by every society. Until recently, the models of housing and care in this country took their inspiration from the mechanization of industry and agriculture: efficiency of production resulting from economies of scale. It was believed by grouping those with similar needs and deficits together, services could be provided more efficiently and at a lower cost.
As the families and founders of Our Home, ICC, we base our vision on the understanding that this type of grouping, based on deficit and need, has unforeseen costs both financially and societally. When vulnerable populations are removed from the community at large, the result is too often permanent isolation, neglect and abuse. Medical and other support costs rise as individuals become increasingly dependent upon institutionalized supports. Ironically, when the natural supports available from family, neighbors, friends, community organizations and local businesses are in place, these costs drop, quality of life improves and outcomes are more positive. The wisdom of the ‘group, isolate, and exclude’ housing model is being increasingly challenged. Here's what we want do about it.