Having safe, warm, affordable housing is something that can be very elusive for people, especially those with disabilities. The cost of adequate shelter can be astronomical, and housing that is not decrepit, falling down or infested with all sorts of nasty animals and insects can be difficult to find in parts of York County. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a secure place to call home at the end of the day often take for granted this emblem of the American Dream, a place to call one’s own.

For people with disabilities, the challenges in finding shelter can be even more daunting. There is a scarcity of individual apartments or group living situations where people’s clinical needs and basic housing needs can be met. It is often very expensive for landlords to retrofit apartments so that those with physical or other disabilities can have a home where they can do basic things such as cook a meal, provide for their own personal hygiene, or even make it in the front door due to steep steps or other obstacles.

Enter the Sanford Housing Authority. For almost 10 years, Waban has partnered with the authority to provide safe, accessible housing for some of Maine’s neediest individuals. This partnership has included access to rent subsidies as well as funding for the renovation of abandoned and derelict buildings into affordable and accessible housing.¬†Through their efforts, individuals with autism and other severe needs, who were on the verge of being homeless, now have places to call their own, knowing that they will be safe, warm and dry.¬†

Many of these individuals are vibrant members of our community and often volunteer in numerous ways to help make life better for seniors, the homebound and those who require food assistance. Our community is better due to their participation, and their lives are better by having a home.

None of this would be possible without the steady help and support from the folks at the Sanford Housing Authority. For their efforts, we are very grateful.

Neal Meltzer, executive director, Waban Projects, Inc., Sanford