Sometimes, gen-Xers and boomers like to poke fun at millennials who live at home with mom and dad, well past the age of majority. These stay-at-homes are always able-bodied, educated, and capable but, nonetheless, can’t seem to get off their phones long enough to get jobs.
In today’s housing market, that’s a cruel stereotype for those who actually are stuck, unable to find a job that pays enough to cover rent. In reality, having somewhere to live is a luxury not all young adults get to enjoy. Plenty of them end up homeless, falling into the clutches of life on the street.
By keeping a roof over their kids’ heads, parents who can help their adult children through hard times are performing an unsung service for their communities. But not everyone can do that, especially when it’s more than just temporary accommodation until the right job comes along. For some parents, if it happens the child is not able-bodied or educated, looking after the child can be a lifelong occupation and a very expensive one.
For Patricia Franks, a single mother of a 30-year-old intellectually challenged daughter, what might become of her daughter if something should happen to mom is a constant anxiety.
“We had the experience in our community of parents dying, leaving (challenged) adult children behind and there’s the ‘then what?’ scenario,” said Franks. “As for all aging parents, we all know that we’re going to be there.”
With no housing options for challenged adults available in her community, she got together with other families experiencing similar issues. They created Caledon Area Families for Inclusion (CAFFI). A passionate presentation to Peel Region, the Town of Caledon, the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the United Way of Peel earned everyone’s attention.
Good news, in the form of a $20,000 grant from Peel, allowed CAFFI to hire a consultancy firm to navigate the way forward. And now, on land owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, an abandoned 1857 heritage home known in Bolton as the “Old Church House,” is undergoing renovations to accommodate three challenged adults. In partnership with CAFFI, Raising the Roof, a national charity that aims to prevent homelessness, is overseeing the project and providing funds.
In Caledon, there are 75 families with challenged children. For Franks, the importance of keeping these challenged individuals in their communities cannot be overstated.
“The province closed all the sheltered workshops, which needed to happen, with the intent that these individuals would stay in their home communities, grow up there and be part of their home communities,” she said. “If you put them in segregated places, which may seem good and safe at the time, none of the rest of the community ever gets to know who they are.”
It’s about familiarity for both the challenged individual and the local community.
“There’s the doctor, the dentist, the grocery store, the bank,” said Franks. “They may still have some peers from school that know who they are. If they’re lost, if anything should happen to them, there are people around who recognize them and know what to do.”
CAFFI will be this year’s beneficiary of the Caledon Council Community Golf Tournament, an annual charity event that, since 2004, has donated more than a million dollars to non-profit organizations in Caledon communities.
Peel Region Councillor Johanna Downey, pictured with Patricia Franks in front of the Old Church House, will chair the event, which takes place Sept. 5 at Osprey Valley Golf Course. Visit caledon.ca/en/townhall/cccgt.asp for information and to help out.
Photo: Patricia Franks with Councillor Johanna Downey outside The Old Church House, Caledon.