Searching for independence
Marilyn Moon is not supposed to be spending so much of her time trying to find affordable housing for her clients at Choices Transitional Services.
As the director of the Choices day program, Moon and her five employees at the nonprofit organization are dedicated to teaching independent living skills to adults with developmental disabilities in the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe communities.
“What we’re trying to do is get all our clients to the point where they can live completely on their own,” she said. “Or we have a supported living environment if they’re not ready for full independence,” she said.
But while many of Moon’s clients are ready to live on their own, few can afford the price of living independently in the Truckee-Tahoe region, where a room in a house rarely rents for less than $500 per month, and apartments are even more expensive.
Most of Moon’s clients at Choices are on fixed incomes and can’t afford to pay more than $300 per month for housing, she said, thus all but one of them still live with their parents.
Exasperating the problem is the lack of Tahoe-area group homes, where adults with disabilities can live cooperatively, typically with the help of state or federal funding.
According to Moon, the closest group home is in Auburn. However, most of her clients have established support groups here and don’t want to have to relocate.
That leaves few options for affordable housing.
“The only place where we’ve found placement is at the senior center,” Moon said. “It’s great that we have that option, but the people here aren’t seniors.”
Not only is there an age discrepancy, but the Truckee Senior Apartments currently has a one-year waiting list, and Choices Transitional Services currently has six clients ranging in age from 22 to 44 in need of affordable housing ” one desperately.
“These people just need a room in a house,” Moon said, adding that “Choices would still take care of any needs they would have. The homeowner or landlord would not be responsible for any care.”
Kyley Rosenow, 22, is the young woman who is desperately in need of somewhere to live ” and quickly.
Rosenow had been living with her mother in Truckee, but her mother recently sold her Truckee home and moved to Reno. Rosenow has lived in Truckee since 1988, went through the Truckee school system, and doesn’t want to leave the town she grew up in.
“I’ve just been here for a long time,” she said. “There’s skiing, and I guess I just don’t like change.”
Rosenow hopes to find a job in town and also enroll in classes at Sierra College. She is looking forward to living independently of her parents, according to Moon, and just needs to find that affordable room for rent.
“She’s an adult now and she wants to live her life and doesn’t want the confines of her parents,” Moon said.
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