Able Community seeks to solve issues involving improving independence for people with disabilities, primarily in the areas of personal care, accessible housing, and employment. In 2012, over 37 million non-institutionalized Americans reported having a disability. Over 14 million people with disabilities are estimated to need self-care and/or independent living assistance. Living options for people with various disabilities are limited to being institutionalized or semi-independent living with parents and/or siblings. Able Community will provide people with disabilities an alternative to living in institutions and having to depend on parents and/or siblings.
People with disabilities, especially young people with disabilities (below age 65), need better personal care solutions. Young people with disabilities are less likely to be as educated and live independently as their peers. In 2011, 12.5% of Americans under 65 with disabilities had a B.A. or higher. 20-33 million young people with disabilities need long-term care. Young people with disabilities (31-64 year olds) make up 14% of nursing home residents, up from 10% 10 years ago, increasing their risk of more health issues, although home care costs 1/3 of institutional care. Over 20 thousand nursing home complaints were filed in 2003 alone. Although many people with disabilities transitioned to community settings, waiting lists for community services have grown and many who want community services cannot obtain them.
There are challenges with community-based home care as well. At least 11.1 million caregivers ages 18 and older provide unpaid care to an adult family member or friend who is 18 to 49 years of age. 40% of caregivers of younger adults do not feel they had a choice about taking on their caregiving responsibility. The number of personal assistants in the United States more than tripled between the beginning of 1989 (264,000 workers) and the end of 2004 (894,000). By the end of 2010, this number increased to 1.5 million.
Illinois, where Able Community will be located, is consistently ranked one of the worst states (49th in 2008 and 48th from 2010-2012) in terms of serving people with disabilities in the community, as opposed to in institutions. In 2011, of Illinois’ 123,933 non-institutionalized people with disabilities, 12,000 lived on their own. As of 2011, Illinois still had 2,034 residents in large state facilities and 33,114 people waiting for home care based services.
Finding adequate housing for people with disabilities is a constant struggle. World Institute on Disability states affordable, accessible housing is linked to independence, but the availability of appropriate housing for all people with disabilities, who are among the poorest in the nation, is not yet achieved. Inaccessible housing literally makes people with disabilities prisoners in their own homes. Housing discrimination complaints based on disability are the most frequent.
Employment is also a challenge for people with disabilities. The Department of Labor reports people with disabilities’ unemployment rate as of February 2017 was 7.6%, compared to 4.0% for people without disabilities. Unemployment is defined as actively seeking employment, so the unemployment rate for people with disabilities does not include people with disabilities who are under employed or who are no longer seeking employment. Thus, the unemployment statistic for the disability community would be higher if those factors were also considered.
 Department of Labor, “Table A-6. Employment status of the civilian population by sex, age, and disability status, not seasonally adjusted,” available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm.