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Nonprofit Empowers Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Find Independent Housing

Damian, a resident of a ROOF group home in Miami.

We continue our year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act through our “Move to Include” initiative by learning about a nonprofit called Residential Options of Florida, or ROOF. Its mission is to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to successfully obtain and maintain affordable and inclusive housing of their choice. ROOF currently operates six three and four-bedroom homes in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties with more under development. It also operates in Clay County near St. Augustine and in Miami-Dade County.

ROOF was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 2014 with support from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. The organization was formed by the Florida Inclusive Housing Task Force of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. The task force identified specific issues facing Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities who wanted to live in the community, and they knew there were solutions to these pressing problems.

The primary goal was to provide information on housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but also to develop tools to help people plan for independent living, to search for housing and to navigate the complex system of housing resources.

But, its goal is not only to provide group housing options, but to assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to find independent rental housing or purchase a home of their own.

We speak with Zania Ledwidge, Resident Services Coordinator with ROOF; and Rose, she is a resident of ROOF’s Naples home.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week. Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.