In 2005, Dr. Edilberto Dizon and Dra. Benjamina Pereyra formed a partnership and established a center for developmentally–challenged children (individuals with special needs or ISNs) and named it ChildFind Learning and Play Center. As years went by and the children of the client-families grew up to become adults, the two realized that there is a need to provide a safe, secure and sustainable housing-with-support for these families. Both shared a vision of creating an inclusive housing community somewhere and decided to form a group of like-minded people.
Happy Homes Housing Cooperative (HHHC) was born out of this need. Its goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for persons with disabilities (PWDs), the elderly and their families, together with their service providers.
There are three important components to build such a community:
- the land where the community will be established;
- the intellectual manpower resources who will conceptualize, create, design and develop the organizational structures, policies, principles and service programs; and,
- the families who will settle in the community.
For several years, the ad-hoc committee worked to create a hybrid community of housing with support-programs. After years of effort, discussions, and small wins along the way, they signed a legal document to transfer the title of the land to the community, and began the arduous process of project development and construction. OneLife Foundation, Inc. (OLFI), another organization founded by Dr Dizon and Dra. Benjie, provides support based on natural family placement – a living arrangement in which a person with disability lives with his/her own family, which might include the parental family, relatives, or spouse and/or children.
Happy Homes Housing Cooperative (HHHC) was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) on July 17, 2013 and officially started in 2014. The registration enables HHHC to enter into legal agreements and to eventually buy and own the selected site at Tanza, Cavite. HHHC’s regular membership has two sub-groups, namely:
- the Resident Service-Providers (RSP) – RSPs are the teachers, therapists, caregivers, and sped paraprofessionals which form part of the support service network providing the needs of the RSRs.
- the Resident Service-Recipients (RSR) – the RSRs are families with special/additional needs members needing the support services of the RSPs. The two sub-groups are mutually dependent on each other and are of equal importance for the sustainability of the community.
The housing-with-support model is a successful, cost-effective combination of affordable housing with services that helps people live more stable, productive lives. A housing-with-support unit is defined by the following elements:
- The unit is available to, and intended for, a person or family with special-need members/elderly and has multiple barriers to employment which might include developmental delays and/or other disabling conditions;
- The unit’s operations are managed through an effective partnership among representatives of the housing cooperative, the property manager, the supportive services providers (OneLife Foundation, Inc), the relevant public agencies, and the residents;
- Residents with special/additional needs have facilitated access to a flexible and comprehensive array of supportive services designed to assist them to achieve and sustain long-term goals.
- Service providers proactively seek to engage the residents in on-site and community-based supportive services.
- In order to ensure the future of the individual with special-needs, future care programs are available for the participants.
A beautiful housing with support community, HHHC has begun constructing “My Big House”, the central building of the community where all the services offered by OLFI for the resident PWDs is conducted. Construction of My Big House has been completed, rendering it functional to serve the under-privileged in the nearby barangays.