WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/713244

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42 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 6 along with the graying of America, our society is grappling with a dramatic surge of young adults who have autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities who are aging out of school and entering the vastly less supported "real world." We need to think creatively about how to provide alternative housing options for them. There are approximately 18,000 children with autism in Massachusetts alone between the ages of 3 and 21 who will need homes after aging out of the school system. Of this group, only about 15 percent obtain housing from the state at age 22 (tending to be the neediest cases). For the rest, no housing is provided. Yet about 80 to 90 percent of this population does not work. Along with this tsunami, the percentage of seniors in Wellesley and Weston is growing fast, and many will need housing support and care. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, between 2010 and 2020, the number of citizens over 65 in Wellesley and Weston was projected to increase 11 and 22 percent, respectively. The government cannot afford to take care of all these people. Every effort must be taken not only to expand programs and housing to address their needs, but also to help families care for their loved ones on their own. For this reason, we are asking Massachusetts towns such as Wellesley and Weston to allow accessory apartments for our elderly and disabled residents. Accessory apartments, also known as "in-law apartments," can both help our elderly age in place and provide affordable housing for our family members with developmental disabili- ties. A potential added benefit could be the reduction of tear-downs. We need to change our zoning laws so that these units are a "by-right use" for anyone to live in who is 65 or older or deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration. FOR OUR SENIORS. Accessory apartments could help our seniors, many of whom have lived here for decades, age in place. Accessory apartments could provide our seniors with affordable places to live, within their own community, and near the people they love. For example, seniors could move into an accessory apartment and have their grown children live in the main house, close by to help if needed. FOR OUR INTELLECTUALLY AND DEVELOPMEN- TALLY DISABLED. An accessory apartment could offer an affordable, sustainable, long- term solution for our disabled children. Caregiving is often the biggest expense, and the apartment would allow the family to help care for the disabled individual. Families may also be able to use funding from MassHealth to pay a live-in caregiver to assist their children. In addition, the rent can be affordable if a Section 8 feder - al housing voucher is obtained. (Disabled Keeping Our Special Needs Children and Elderly Close [ forum ] K A R E N M A R I S C A L a n d C AT H Y B O Y L E writers Wellesley resident KAREN MARISCAL is a special needs planning attorney with Margolis & Bloom and writes on behalf of Advocates for Autism Massachusetts. Winchester resident CATHY BOYLE is President of Autism Housing Pathways.

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