In a growing trend toward inclusion, young adults with disabilities now have more opportunities than ever to live with typically-developing peers who double as their caregivers. A lack of safe and affordable housing is the number one issue for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most adults with developmental disabilities who are no longer living with family members reside in group homes with other people with disabilities or live independently with assistance from service providers who come to the residence for support and therapy. But there is a national shortage of care providers, and group homes often have long waiting lists or are not compatible with jobs and transportation.
A Minnesota-based company has responded to the crisis by creating a roommate matching service for people with and without disabilities. Since launching last summer, the new service, Rumi, has paired 12 sets of roommates who have signed long-term leases. The program matches people with disabilities who have Medicaid waivers with a compatible caregiver based on shared interests and needs. The pairs live in homes or apartments in the community just like typical roommates and the caregivers are paid for whatever level of services they provide, which can range from overnight supervision to around-the-clock support. The benefits for people with disabilities are having a choice in where to live, who to live with and the level of support. For caregivers, the advantages are tax-free salaries compared to direct care jobs outside the home and helping people live more independently.