HOPE Residents Enjoy Newfound Independence

By: 
Patrick Ong
ROBERT, left, and Gilbert in front of their new Long Beach home.
While the nonprofit program Home Ownership for Personal Empowerment (HOPE) opened their five-unit housing complex for adults with developmental disabilities in June 2019, the Beachcomber sat down with some residents to get an update on how they have been adjusting.
 
Officials from HOPE have requested that both the address of the location and last names of clients remain classified.
 
There are two residents: Robert, 56, who lives with one roommate in one unit. Gilbert, 37, lives alone in his unit while HOPE and Ambitions of California – who supply the on site support staff – finds him a roommate from Harbor Regional Center. Both of them have lived there for about two months.
 
Robert is devout Jehovah’s Witness that knows the Long Beach Transit and Metro Bus systems pretty thoroughly. He takes the bus to a day program three times per week that assists him in learning how to be independent and an overall better person. Robert has had epilepsy all his life and used to suffer seizures as a child. He also deals with asthma and a sleeping disorder. 
 
Gilbert grew up in Torrance but has lived in Long Beach previously. He says that he spends a lot of time with family here in Long Beach. He will go to the Belmont Pier and go fishing with his brother and his friends or will go to his cousin’s house to watch football as he is a dedicated Raiders fan. Gilbert lives with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 
 
“I like that I am able to go outside more,” said Robert.
 
While both unemployed, Robert would like to become an information clerk for a public transportation office so he can help people find the correct routes for where they would like to go. He mentioned that whenever passengers ask the bus drivers on how to get to their location, he bites his tongue to allow the drivers to help the passengers themselves. If they are not able to help them, he is able to assist other people because he knows the routes and schedules.
 
Gilbert is looking for a job working in a warehouse or in a grocery store but ultimately would like to help coach a football team. He used to help his local high school football team and travel with them during the playoffs.
 
Along with their supervisor, employees available serve as “safety staff” for the clients. Apart from making sure that their living conditions are safe, they also aid in their budgeting and provide suggestions on activities in which they can participate. Besides those services, HOPE clients live mostly by their own schedule. They are not monitored and in charge of their own cooking and cleaning as opposed to residential homes, which take care of that. Clients, like Gilbert and Robert, prefer to live more independently. 
 
Both Gilbert and Robert appreciate the way that the staff and living situation has suited their needs and preferences. Previously, both of them lived in residential homes where they would have multiple roommates that might not fit the living dynamic. Robert also says the staff is much more understanding and gentle than how he has been treated in the past. Gilbert agrees and says he does not mind having a roommate for the time being as he can watch football without being disturbed.
 

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