At the Autism Housing Network, we love to highlight our housing listings and give you a peek inside. As people with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) have diverse support needs and preferences, we created a Virtual Tour of Housing Options to help individuals and families understand the pros and cons for the variety of options, both traditional and progressive.
Life Services Alternatives (LSA) was founded by parents looking to create homes for their adult children as others continue to do in response to recognizing the need for more housing options and creating and driving change. AHN Director, Desiree Kameka, was interviewed this year for a national article about this very movement of parent filling the housing gap. LSA currently manages and operates 14 licensed residential care homes in neighborhood settings in addition to a day program in Santa Clara County, California. A couple years ago, we wrote about what group homes can generally offer in an interview with the Executive Director of (LSA), Dana Hooper. We checked in with LSA again to get an overview of what they provide as an organization and to hear stories of residents thriving in their group homes. To learn more about Life Services Alternatives, read the interview below:
LIFE SERVICES ALTERNATIVES
“Life Services Alternatives believes all people with developmental disabilities have the right to live life to its fullest in our community. Twenty-four hours a day, we care for and support adults with special needs in neighborhood homes in Santa Clara County. Through personalized programs focused on skill-building, we make a difference in the quality of our residents’ lives, enabling them to reach their true potential. We invest in training and development and embrace a quality improvement process. We respect and trust our employees, residents, and families. We are a kind and caring community. We encourage community and family involvement.”
What was the inspiration behind LSA?
Life Services Alternatives was founded by parents who had a dream of establishing homes for their adult children with special needs. In 2002, LSA began a journey to establish quality homes and nurturing services so that adults with developmental disabilities – including those with enduring medical needs – could receive life-long services while living in their community, not an institution.
What kind of roadblocks did LSA face to get started?
To build a great organization and open residential care homes takes a lot of resources and expertise. LSA was very fortunate to receive start-up grants and assistance from the state of California through the San Andreas Regional Center and to have received great support from the community. It takes a lot of time and resources to open an adult residential home or to create affordable housing. I’d suggest teaming up with organizations that are creating capacity and supporting their effort however you can.
What does LSA offer for individuals with I/DD?
We offer residential care in 14 community homes and a day program that is 100% community-based. Although the type and level of support vary widely across the homes and programs it is uniquely geared to each individual. We believe in living life to the fullest; keeping healthy and safe, doing fun activities, celebrating holidays and birthdays, traveling to fun places, learning to be more independent and making good choices are what it’s all about. In our day program, participants learn social and job skills through volunteering at various community nonprofits.
What changes would you like to see in the I/DD community?
Reimbursement rates in California have not kept pace with the cost of living and so increasingly we are seeing more programs close than open. I’d like to see the community come together more as a political force and actively advocate for rate and system reform.
Learn more about the residents:
Kevin has lived at Cypress for nearly three years and the transition from his family home has been seamless. His housemates took him under their wings and helped him adjust to his new home. Kevin loves animals, especially dogs and horses, and his favorite thing in the world is to go horseback riding. Read more and see the video on our website.
Empey resident Bambi recently celebrated a significant milestone: high school graduation! Her teacher Mary Scates and Santa Clara County Office of Education administrator Kathy Bays came to Bambi’s LSA home to present her with a Certificate of Completion. Read more about Bambi here.
Vanessa lives in our Jordan-Bennett Home. In this 90-second video, her mother Lynn talks about the difference LSA has made in her daughter’s life since she became an LSA resident in the summer of 2015.
More than two decades ago, LSA McKendrie Home twins Priscilla and Natalie were born at just 27 weeks. At four months old, they began showing signs of both epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Their mother Jennie knew that the twins would need specialized care as they approached adulthood. Read more about Natalie and Priscilla here.