All of us face turning points in life. Some become roadblocks, while others cause minimal adjustments to our plans for the future. It’s all part of the human experience. Ed Mathurin, a member of the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), has faced numerous turning points in his life. Starting with the death of his beloved wife after less than five years of marriage, Ed sought to regain his footing by moving into a group home. However, a group home was not well suited for him as he desired more freedom, so he moved into a studio apartment. But the limited space was challenging and left him feeling unorganized. With assistance from DDD, Ed was able to locate and move into a one-bedroom, rent-assisted Phoenix apartment in September 2021. “The size is better for me,” said Ed. “I can organize better than living in a studio, [where] it felt like too much clutter.”
The turning point that led to Ed’s Phoenix apartment was relatively easy but took some time. Ed and his mother, Marge, first learned about DDD’s Affordable Housing program from a previous DDD case manager. Formerly called the HERO program [an acronym for Housing, Engagement, Resources and Opportunity (see related article here)], the DDD Affordable Housing Program is operated by the DDD Office of Individual and Family Affairs.
“Ed went through the process of applying for the DDD Housing Program and was then offered an apartment. “Then you go out and look at that area to see if you want to accept it,” he said. Although Ed would prefer to live in Mesa where he’s familiar with the bus routes, he signed up for every city in Maricopa County. Once notified that an apartment was available in Phoenix, the process, he said, went pretty quickly.
Ed moved to his new home on September 24. A DDD Occupational Therapist had previously helped him set up his kitchen, organizing pots and utensils. As a member of DDD, Mom’s Meals delivers food to his home twice a month, providing 14 meals with each visit. He’s especially grateful for this service on days when he has migraines. Ed also receives Speech Therapy four times a month.
A new turning point is learning a new public transportation and transfer system. A bus stop is conveniently located on the corner from where Ed lives. He takes the bus to go shopping, pick up groceries, visit the pharmacy and go to medical appointments. He also relies on bus trips just to get out of the apartment and tour the Phoenix area. He likes to go outside to feel the weather. “I’ll use a sundial [watch] to guess what time it is.”
For other DDD members experiencing a living-arrangement turning point in their lives, Ed advises that members talk to their case managers. as the DDD Housing Program may be able to help.
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.