Happy New Year!

The holidays are over and we have rung in a New Year. Like many, LU ended the year in retrospection. This quote rings true for us:
"Holding on tight to a big audacious mission requires us to say no, or not yet, to many things. Building something that matters takes time, but more than time it takes patience, strategy and grit." 
So ... we humbly enter 2017 with determination and grit. There is much to be done!

Property Update: El Sobrante 
An LU board member is in contract to purchase a 3.6 acre greenfield (meaning it has no buildings) property in El Sobrante. Obtaining the property is moving slower than expected due to it being landlocked. The entry point previously identified is not panning out, so we are in difficult negotiations with the owner of the adjacent empty lot. We are exploring options and will soon determine if continuing with such an impediment is really worth while. We will keep you posted.

In the meantime, we plan to contact those who expressed interest in the El Sobrante property for a meeting to discuss other options and opportunities. Stay tuned.

Updates on advocacy issues
The State of California submitted its revised Statewide Transition Plan on November 23, 2016. You can read more here. The revised document sent to CMS does seem to have taken into consideration many of the concerns parents expressed during the public comment period. This is good. Now our community waits to see if CMS accepts California's plan. 

Other Notable Meetings
The Parent Advocates for Neurodevelopment Disabilities Housing (PANDH for short) asked Alex Krem and Susan Riggle to talk with their group about what we at Living Unlimited are doing. It was great to discuss with these go-getter parents all of the different types of approaches being explored regarding housing for special needs adults. For example, there is a development of approximately 60 apartments being built in Berkeley. The plan is that 40 of the apartments will be rented out at market rates and 20 of the apartments will be rented to I/DD individuals at reduced rents. Now that's innovative! 
Someone in the meeting suggested that what we really need to do is put all the smartest people who know the most about the housing problem and have been thinking of solutions all together into the same room and see what great ideas come up. Brilliant idea.
Another parent suggested that instead of relying on developers to do the right thing, we (the parents of special needs children) should consider becoming developers. This comment definitely got creative juices flowing (and a few spreadsheets…). 

Recap of 2016 Autism Society Conference Into the Future: Adult Autism/DD Planning Workshop
by Karen Delucchi

Held on December 3, 2016 at Stanford University, the Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area hosted an all-day conference to discuss the future of housing, care, and funding for our loved ones with autism/DD.Main lectures discussed maximizing public benefits, the IPP process, care for adult children after parents are gone, and a panel on supported living solutions. Two dozen break-out sessions were offered covering topics from Writing a "Lifestyle Directive" for your Adult Child with Autism/DD to Creating Community for Adults on the Spectrum: How to Have Integration Without Isolation.
LU's own Alex Krem moderated the panel on Innovating New Supported Living Solutions that included representatives from intentional communities including Costanoa Commons, Camphill California, Down Home Ranch, Madison House, and Vine Village, as well as Rident Park, an ambitious project currently in development that includes a 1.9 acre site in Windsor (Sonoma County) with plans for building homes, recreational areas, and a common building to create a community environment.
This writer attended a breakout group that featured Dana Hooper, Executive Director of Life Services Alternatives, a group that has created twelve family-like homes for adults with disabilities in Santa Clara County through donations and dedication. It is truly inspiring to see what motivated parents and supporters can accomplish. 
Important take-aways from this informative event are: 1) Estate and financial planning are critical to make sure your child can continue to receive deserved and necessary state benefits, which may change over time; 2) There are benefits funded by the regional center that are not always offered, such as Supported Living Services which can be provided for life. A good resource is James Huyck, Public Benefits Consultant/Advocate and former regional center executive director (jfhuyck@yahoo.com); 3) California passed the ABLE Act in 2015 which allows individuals with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts without losing government assistance. However, because this is new and the details have not been worked out, staff may not know how to proceed and may cause beneficiaries to lose benefits. Proceed with caution and get informed! http://treasurer.ca.gov/able/
March 4th  5-8 PM   Half Moon Bay
Join Living Unlimited families for an evening at Half Moon Bay. The only agenda item is to have fun and meet other LU families.
All ages are welcome. 
Live music from the
Half Moon Band 
Old Princeton Landing
Half Moon Bay  
Outside back patio
will be open!
March 4th from 5-8pm

*The evening is organized by Beth Goddard, an LU volunteer, to benefit a future housing community for her son, Robbie Batista.