New Assumptions

Tom Nerney has been involved in the design of highly individualized services and supports for people with disabilities all around the country for several decades. Here he shares his latest vision of how community living should look in the future.

Tom Nerney: So the two new assumptions we use for developing a highly personal, individual budget are these. If you don't live with your family, you have a place to call home that's your home. Okay? Just to answer the residential question once and for all, you can go home again. And it's your place, right, not somebody else's. Very simple principle.

And the second one is, without exception, everybody comes up with a financial plan to generate private income. There are no exceptions and there's no need to have exceptions. So for us, individual budgets, when you think about it this way, you know really, become really potent tools to address enforced impoverishment and loneliness of individuals with disabilities if we craft them correctly.

The standards are very simple for us. Every budget is highly personal and individually crafted. You have authority over anybody who provides any support to you. And people need a lot of assistance on some of these issues so we have to make sure the assistance is in place. And individual budgets have to be flexible. People's experience changes during the course of the year. You've got to be able to move money around.