It's a "Family Affair" at Independent Living Centers for People with Disabilities and Their Families

Mar 31, 2014, 12:22 ET from The California State Independent Living Council (SILC)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Managing the daily challenges of life can be stressful and overwhelming. And for approximately 4.8 million people living with disabilities in California, many of those challenges impact the entire family as well. For example, if a family cannot find accessible, affordable housing, they may end up living in a shelter or on the streets. Helping families with a plan to achieve residential stability is just one of the services provided by Independent Living Centers (ILCs) in California.

"Accessible and affordable housing and transportation top the list of barriers facing individuals with disabilities in our state as does having sufficient income and resources to live independently," noted California State Independent Living Council Executive Director Liz Pazdral. "ILCs help individuals and families navigate the maze of available benefits and assist them with applications and processes."

Finding housing for people with disabilities and their families happens almost daily at Independent Living Resources of Solano and Contra Costa Counties (ILRSCC), and the circumstances are different for each family.

"We recently assisted a young lady who was shot in her home in Richmond and became paralyzed," said ILRSCC's Independent Living Specialist Michael Hopfe of ILRSCC. "We worked with her and her family to find accessible housing."

ILC staff members are trained to assist families in signing up for food stamps, low-income utility assistance, disability benefits and other programs. For example, providing assistance with in-home supportive services (IHSS) and assistive technology is an essential service provided by ILCs. From an initial in-home assessment through applying for benefits and hiring a personal assistant (PA), ILC staff accompany families through the entire IHSS process. Some ILCs also offer the latest in assistive technology, including computers individuals can use to research housing and employment and work on resumes. In addition, ILCs can assist families with developing educational plans, employment training and peer support to help people with disabilities learn how to use public transportation.

"Having a disability can be traumatic for a lot of people and can create a sense of isolation for everyone," said Hopfe, who is paralyzed from the neck down and knows firsthand. "If you have a place where you can come and go and talk with another person with a disability or families facing similar challenges, you don't feel so alone. We try to draw people out, get them into the ILC and things begin to blossom. Above all, just being here for individuals and their families and showing we care is the biggest service we offer."

The California State Independent Living Council (SILC) is an independent state agency which, in cooperation with the California State Department of Rehabilitation, prepares and monitors the State Plan for Independent Living.

The SILC Mission: To Create Policy and System Change for Independent Living

SOURCE The California State Independent Living Council (SILC)