Living Independently

The heart of independent living is having the skills to create the life that you want. Independence Northwest offers independent living skills instruction to assist you with the skills that you need to gain more control over your life. We work with consumers one on one to set goals and acquire the necessary skills to deal with everyday situations. We can help you learn how to budget your resources, apply for subsidized housing, or how to hire and manage your personal care staff. From time to time, Independence Northwest offers classes on a variety of topics related to independent living skills.

Changed my life. This program is a big help, I couldn’t have moved back into the community without your assistance.

Independence Northwest Consumer

Individual Advocacy

Independent Living Advocates work one-on-one with those who are interested in leading more independent lives. The work of an IL Advocate can take many different forms depending on the goals of the individual.

The IL Advocate walks alongside our consumers as they work toward their goals. They may be going to work or school, obtaining benefits, moving out of an institution into a more independent setting, and much more. Our goal is to teach self-advocacy, while providing ongoing support and guidance.

Here are some aging and disability services we can help you access:

  • Options Counseling for Benefits, Employment and Long-Term Care
  • Federal & State Health Insurance Programs
  • Housing
  • Long-Term Care Planning & Management
  • Paying for Prescriptions
  • Transportation
  • Assisted Living Options
  • Advocacy
  • Employment Supports
  • Legal Services
  • Preventing Abuse of People with Disabilities & Elders
  • Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
  • Community Resources

Since I entered the program, I have gained control of my life and became more independent.

Independence Northwest Consumer

Independent Living Skills Instruction

The heart of independent living is having the skills to create the life that you want. Independence Northwest offers independent living skills instruction to assist individuals with the skills that they need to gain more control over their life. We work with consumers one-on-one to set goals and acquire the necessary skills to deal with everyday situations. We can help you learn how to budget your resources, apply for subsidized housing or learn how to hire and manage your personal care staff. From time to time, Independence Northwest has offered classes on a variety of topics related to independent living skills. We also work one on one with consumers and can develop a plan to acquire these skills.

This program has prepared me a whole lot for my future. I received a lot of help from the
program. The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable.

Independence Northwest Consumer

Peer Mentoring

The use of peer counselors was originally adopted by the Independent Living Movement because it fit so well with the overall philosophy — an organization run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. It was believed that people who have experienced attitudinal, physical, mental and communication barriers themselves are often the best service providers for those experiencing the same barriers. This is an extremely effective method for us at Independence Northwest.

Every IN peer counselor has first-hand knowledge of the relevant issues, in addition to thorough training in effective coping, communication and advocacy skills.

The counselor and individual meet as equals, both sharing life experiences in their quest to achieve independence. In the process, a relationship develops based on mutual trust and respect. The peer counselor also serves as a role model for the individual by offering concrete evidence of possible achievements. Throughout their work together, they explore the needs and issues of the individual, define his or her goals, and then begin work to attain these goals.

Every IN peer counselor has first-hand knowledge of the relevant issues, in addition to thorough training in effective coping, communication and advocacy skills.

Family Member of Consumer

Information and Referral

Our I&R services reflect the principles of consumer control and self-management, important steps towards achieving independence. I&R provides essential information to people with disabilities who want to make changes in their personal living situation, education, employment or other areas related to independent living.

I&R is often the first point of contact with our organization and works with the individual to determine their needs and develop an awareness of their options. Our resources are valuable tools covering a broad range of disability topics. I&R is provided in person, over the phone and/or online.

Hear from those we helped:

Josiane

Josiane is 37 and lives own her own in an apartment with support and guidance from Independence Northwest.

Josianne has thrived with the support of the center. She earned an associate degree at Gateway Community College in New Haven, and is currently enrolled in a pre-med program.

Josiane maximizes every opportunity to advance her education and her knowledge.  She recently participated in a medical internship program at Yale University School of Medicine — all made possible because Josiane has a safe, secure home and the support of Independence Northwest.

Transition to the Community

Since its inception in 1988, Independence Northwest has assisted consumers in skilled nursing facilities to return to life in the community with services and supports to live safe, successful and fulfilling lives in the community of their choice.

In 2009, Independence Northwest became a transition coordination site for the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Project of the Connecticut Department of Social Services to assist residents of skilled nursing facilities in northwestern Connecticut in returning to live in the community with home and community-based services and supports. Money Follows the Person can provide limited funds to assist in establishing a community residence with home essentials. There is also funding for home modifications and state-funded rental subsidies for those who qualify to assist with monthly rental costs.

To qualify for Money Follows the Person, a consumer must:

  • Have lived in a nursing facility for at least three months,
  • Have or be eligible for Medicaid (Title XIX), and
  • Have a desire to live in a Connecticut community of their choice in a family home, apartment or a community residence where no more than four unrelated people reside.

In addition to these qualifications, a consumer’s cost of care in a community setting must not exceed the cost of care that they presently receive in a skilled nursing facility. For those who do not meet the above criteria, state funded transition services are available to assist a consumer who does not qualify for the Money Follows the Person Project to return to the community.

To get started with Money Follows the Person, call the CT Department of Social Services Money Follows the Person Unit at 1-888-992-8637 or visit their website at http://www.ct.gov/moneyfollowstheperson.

Youth Transition Initiative

The Youth Transition Initiative works with youth with disabilities to assist them in transitioning to and from school and work. Through outreach, information, service referrals, independent living skills instruction and peer mentoring, the program assists students with disabilities in area high schools with carrying out transition plans to successfully transition students into post secondary school, independence and achievement. The program also works with area colleges to identify students with disabilities who are preparing to transition into the world of work. Youth work one-on-one with the peer mentor to identify and provide support to students in their transition to school or work. The peer mentor is able to link students with services they require for successful independent living and transition into higher education and/or employment. The peer mentor can assist in locating appropriate housing, medical services, income benefits and supportive services. When requested, the peer mentor also can work with families of youth with disabilities.

Community Advocacy

At Independence Northwest, we empower people with disabilities, concentrating our efforts into a collective strength so that we can eliminate barriers and abolish discriminatory policies. Being advocates for social change is a crucial part of what we do and another reason our organization is so different from others. We advocate on issues of concerns to the disability community on a state and national level.

Our advocacy work takes many different directions. We may assist an individual whose rights are being violated, coordinate larger groups of individuals who want to address public accessibility problems or work with national organizations to bring about relevant legislative change that will directly benefit people from our community.

People with disabilities decide which issues to pursue in our advocacy agenda. This empowers all of us and serves as a valuable learning experience. Everyone is encouraged to speak up for themselves and work for change in the community, which helps us all achieve greater independence.

Community Services

Independence Northwest serves hundreds of individuals each year by providing technical assistance, individual and organizational outreach, and community awareness programs and systems advocacy.

We educate the community about independent living and a greater awareness of the issues concerning people with disabilities. Our community awareness and educational programs provide information and education to schools, businesses, civic and charity groups. We also provide technical assistance consulting services to local businesses, organizations and municipalities who need assistance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and compliance with other accommodation and accessibility requirements.

When efforts to persuade my municipality to comply with the ADA failed, our ADA Committee consulted Independence Northwest. The Community Advocate worked with us as a partner to analyze our needs, provide information and support Committee members. She attended meetings and testified at hearings. Thanks to IN’s efforts, my town is finally taking serious steps to achieve compliance.

Community Member

Housing Opportunities

Our Housing Opportunities Program (HOP) assists people with affordable housing.

Program participants or consumers control all aspects of the services for which they are eligible. Individuals and their families work closely with the Housing Advocates (HA) to obtain and maintain scattered- site housing through assistance with entitlements, employment, applications to various offerings through local housing authorities, and other solutions. By providing economic relief through housing assistance, HOP allows persons to achieve long-term goals that may not be possible without housing support services. It is the responsibility of the consumer to develop these goals and work with the HA to complete the steps toward achievement of their goals. It is the primary mission of the HOP to improve the quality of a consumer’s life and the consumer’s overall capacity for independent living.

Through independent living skills, peer counseling, and the development of an independent living plan, consumers are empowered to overcome obstacles to independent living and create their own future.

Housing Opportunities provides rental subsidies to eligible consumers typically for a period of 12-36 months. Rental subsidies will be based upon the gross household income. Consumers are required to pay rent in the amount that is 30% of the gross monthly household income. Adjustments to the gross monthly income will be offered to consumers who qualify. Consumers must provide documentation of the gross household income and documentation for any allowable deductions offered by the program. Rental subsidy checks will be mailed directly to the landlord one week before the first of the month. All units subsidized by this program must be inspected prior to occupancy, and annually thereafter to insure that each unit meets the Federal Housing Quality Standards.

I’m grateful for this program. Without it, I would have nowhere to live. I am grateful for the support and help they gave me to get on my feet. Thank you so much!

Independence Northwest Consumer

Veterans' Services

Our Veterans’ Program employs retired vets, who work one-on-one with those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The program provides veterans and their spouses with VA benefit information, advocacy and referral services, veterans’ benefits application assistance, and assists in the establishment and presentation of legal claims pursuant to rights, benefits and privileges afforded to veterans, through individual services and outreach.

The advocate assists veterans and their spouses in applying for VA health care, CT Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Marines’ Funds, VA Services Connect compensation, VA Service Connected Compensation, VA Services Connected pension, Non-service pension, special monthly compensation (Housebound and Aid & Attendance), death pension and VA burial benefits.

It’s important for persons to know there’s help in the community to get them back on their feet. Without an organization like Independence Northwest, many people lose hope.

Independence Northwest Consumer

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