Micaela Connery is the founder and CEO of a new inclusionary housing development called The Kelsey which is focused on creating an environment of mixed ability and mixed income residents. The Kelsey aims to be more than a housing development, they aim to be a social change organization expanding inclusion possibilities for individuals with disabilities.
Part 1 of the interview focuses on the logistics of creating The Kelsey and why it is a desirable, yet never before created, model of housing.
Part 2 is an interesting discussion about how parents’ motivation to create housing comes from a different angle and also why, for the future of policy, it is important for inclusionary housing to be an option.
Mentioned in This Episode
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Minute 6:50 - Micaela was born within 3 months of her cousin, Kelsey, and they grew up together. (Read about Kelsey, here). Micaela naturally became Kelsey’s inclusion advocate throughout the years. When Micaela and Kelsey became adults, it was strange for them that so much focus was placed on inclusion while individuals with disabilities are in school but then once adults, are segregated from the community.
Minute 10:45 - The current generation has grown up with inclusion and there is a desire for those relationships to be present in adulthood. Micaela calls this generation Inclusion Natives. (Read more about Inclusion Natives here).
Minute 14:15 - Most housing communities are started by parents and Micaela emphasizes the challenges this places on families who are being asked to solve housing issues for their loved ones. Rather, it makes good sense to also rely on entrepreneurs, policy makers, professionals, and funders to push new systems forward.
Minute 17:15 - The Kelsey is a mixed ability, mixed income community with inclusion at it’s core. A unique aspect of The Kelsey is that of Inclusion Concierges™ whose job it is to foster relationships in the building, connect residents to the community, and indirectly point to services. While Inclusion Concierges™ do not control supported services, they understand and know service needs.
Minute 24:25 - They choose San Jose (Ayer Station) as the first location for a variety of reasons including legislation called The Lanterman Act which is only available in California. Other reasons are their mixed housing rate model, the innovative reputation of Silicon Valley, and a deep history of valuing diversity and inclusion.
Minute 30:00 - The Kelsey is more than an innovative housing model, they also strive to be a social change organization. This will be done by building communities, partnering for impact, and changing systems. Read more here.
Minute 6:00 - The Kelsey stresses the importance of bringing self advocates with disabilities and parents and other stakeholders together into the same conversations. It is surprising these conversations often happen separately.
Minute 9:52 - Same age peers are highly equipped to make appropriate decisions for their siblings and friends with differing abilites. Parents often make decisions based on fear which can hinder beliefs of what is possible around inclusion. The Kelsey wants to start the conversation with what is possible rather than what is not, especially for those who have significant needs.
Minute 15:23 - There is a weird dichotomy that a setting is either supportive or inclusive and unable to coexist which is not true. In fact, a lot of elements of inclusion make a setting more supportive and safe.
Minute 16:35 - Does advocating for inclusive communities like The Kelsey mean advocating against intentional communities? Micaela supports the creation of all housing because of the extreme shortage but she does have a few concerns with intentional communities. 1) Intentional communities are the primary model available and being replicated which does not offer another choice should an individual with disabilities want an inclusive community 2) Without individuals with disabilities living alongside others in the community they are not visible so therefor off the radar and a personal consideration for policy makers, developers, funders, and voters. Micaela worries the short term effects of intentional communities may not be worth the long term implications of the disability community remaining invisible.
26:00 - For the year 2019, there are three specific ways you can partner with The Kelsey: 1) Financial support 2) Community Advisory Groups and the Real Estate Advisory Council 3) An advocacy coalition for Community Inclusive Living
Listen to Kim’s conversation about being a Reluctant Advocate on the Mama Bear Podcast from the January 14, 2019 episode. She shares 5 things she has learned over the years on how to be an advocate without loosing her soul.