Thirty-year-old Carlos, his mother (Ariana), brother and younger sister, rented a West Valley four-bedroom house for 10 years. Then the family received word that the owners of the house were going to sell the property and they had to move. With rents so high in the Phoenix area, the family had no idea where they could go. Carlos, a member of the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), has special needs, and Ariana reached out to Carlos’ Support Coordinator, Leanna Voogd, and asked if she knew of any programs that could help them. She did: The DDD Affordable Housing Program, offered through the Office of Individual and Family Affairs (OIFA). Soon, Carlos and his family were matched up with an accessible apartment that seemed like it was created just for him.
Carlos is unable to stand for a long period of time and usually uses a wheelchair. The spacious ground-floor, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom South Phoenix apartment features wide doorways that accommodate wheelchair access, and an accessible kitchen as well as bathrooms. Carlos can maneuver his wheelchair under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Both bathrooms include grab bars by the sink, toilet and in the shower. The larger bathroom has a fold-down seat that enables Carlos to sit while showering.
Ariana explained that it can be difficult for someone with a disability to get the services and help they need. Fortunately, DDD is there to lend a hand. “You don’t even know [just how much] DDD services help people with disabilities.” Carlos also attends a Day Training Program and receives habilitation and respite services from DDD. Ariana credits Carlos’ (now former) support coordinator, Leanna, with the help she and her family so desperately needed. Leanna introduced Ariana to DDD’s Housing Coordinator who guided the family through the application process. “It was really easy. I spoke … with the housing people and she just took down a little bit of information.” Next, Ariana went to the DDD office and picked up the application. After filling out the application, Ariana brought all the completed paperwork back to the office where the extra copies she needed were made. “[The Housing Coordinator] was really in touch with me. She always checked up on us. So, I made sure I called her to let her know I’m very thankful. I still keep in touch with her and let her know.”
What do Ariana and Carlos like most about their new home? “It’s comfortable. For an apartment, it’s really homey--it doesn’t feel like an apartment. He [Carlos] loves his new room.” When the family was moving out of the West Valley house they had been renting, Carlos didn’t want to go back to the ‘old place.’ He [said], ‘Nope, we’re staying at the new house.’” The family moved into their affordable home on March 10, 2021.
As far as Ariana and Carlos are concerned, the spacious apartment with all the accessible amenities was built just for them to live comfortably.
In partnership with the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), the DDD Affordable Housing Program refers members to affordable housing opportunities. ADOH is the recipient of two 811 Project Rental Assistance (811 PRA) grants which provide funding for housing subsidies for Division members. DDD identifies program participants who are ready and willing to live independently (with DDD supports and services), and acts as the referral agent and service partner with ADOH to connect members (and their households) with community integrated affordable housing units. The rent is calculated at 30% of the household income. To be eligible for referral, the DDD member must be ALTCS eligible, between the ages of 18 to 61, income eligible, and be referred to the program by their Support Coordinator.
“I really appreciate it! It really is helping us. [With subsidized housing,] I now have more money to spend to buy him things. It makes things so much easier.”
To DDD and ADOH: “Thank you so much! You make a difference in people’s lives!”
Postscript: Thanks to Carlos’ older sister, who lives in Chicago, he is now an uncle and will proudly show a photo of his newborn nephew, who is named after Carlos’ late father.