Our overarching goals can best be expressed through our mission statement: "At Hope House Foundation, we believe neighborhoods and communities are enriched when everyone in them participates to the fullest extent possible, and that includes people with disabilities. We believe that citizenship should not be limited by the attainment of certain skills, but is a right that belongs to us all.
We believe that this right can only be fully enjoyed when people have as much control over their day-to-day life as possible. And that includes living in one's own home, with one's own name on the lease.
We believe that with the right support, even people with complex disabilities can live successfully in their own homes -- not in congregate or group settings.
We believe in care that is customized to each individual's needs and desires, enabling everyone we support to live a life of choice, rather than circumstance.
Choice. Belonging. Home. At Hope House, these are not just abstract concepts. Through our services, our community participation, and our advocacy, we make these ideas a reality, each and every day."
That mission is actualized through achievement of three broad objectives:
1. Self-determination: The achievement of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of choice over all aspects of their lives, including where and how they live; with whom they choose to interact; and which community-based activities they choose to pursue.
2. Affordable, safe housing: Our affiliate organization, the Residential Corporation, owns ten properties through which we provide affordable housing to those we serve, as well as to approximately 100 residents from the community who are in search of affordable housing. Not only do these rentals to the community at large provide an innovative and much-needed revenue source, but they address one of our major goals: to ensure that the men and women with disabilities served by Hope House do not live in isolated settings, but are part of the community fabric.
3. Community integration: As mentioned in the answer above, those we serve do not live in isolated or congregate settings, but are part of an integrated community where people with and without disabilities live and interact. Additionally, Hope House is committed to helping those we serve to participate to the fullest extent possible within their chosen communities, and we continuously raise funds to ensure that those served can take courses, engage in recreational activities, worship as they desire, and interact with friends throughout the community -- not as part of a group, but individually and/or with a friend or acquaintance of their choosing.
At Hope House Foundation, all of our strategies are grounded in our determination to be “of" rather than simply “within" the communities in which we provide services and, through our affiliate organization, affordable housing. That commitment has it roots our radical decision – over 30 years ago – to close our group homes and transition people with disabilities into their own homes.
In closing our group homes, we knew that we were undertaking a mammoth challenge that would require the development of strategies that we knew would be extremely challenging:
a) massive fundraising to compensate for the state's inadequate funding for support services (see item "c" below);
b) partnerships with the business, government and funding communities to secure affordable housing opportunities through our affiliate, the Residential Corporation;
c) strong advocacy to reform the Commonwealth's draconian funding model. While most states long-ago implemented funding models for community-based living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Virginia ranks a dismal 49th, according to a 2014 United Cerebral Palsy report. That translates into a hall of shame featuring an estimated 8,500 on waiting lists for community-based services; over 600 languishing in state-run institutions; and 1,700 living in state-run hospital settings.
There are several levels of organizational capacity that Hope House Foundation has vigorously pursued:
1. Financial Capacity: At Hope House, we define “financial capacity" as the financial limit of an organization's ability to absorb losses with its own funds or borrowed funds without disruption. One way to discuss this is to examine our “defensive interval ratio." At the end of fiscal year 2016, for example, our defensive interval ratio indicated that we could operate for approximately five months if no additional funds were received. Since the typical goal to which an agency should aspire is three-to-six months, it can be said that Hope House is well within the desired range. This is the result of our vigorous pursuit of fundraising activities, through corporate, foundation, individual and government entities.
2. Advocacy for changes in the Commonwealth's inadequate funding for community-based services: The current funding model in Virginia actually incentivizes congregate settings, in both state-run institutions and group homes. Our advocacy – both organizationally and in our leadership role with the ARC of Virginia – has been instrumental to a determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that the Commonwealth's funding model is in violation of both the ADA and the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision. Not only has this resulted in a historic 2012 settlement that will ultimately end the institutionalization of people with disabilities, but the Commonwealth's attorneys routinely seek Hope House's counsel as the settlement moves forward. Specifically, the settlement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice mandates that the state-run institutions pursue a phased closure that should be complete within ten years.
3. Leadership Capacity: Hope House Foundation is enormously invested in its leadership capacity, at the board, administrative staff and service staff levels. According to Executive Director Lynne Seagle, who has been a respected leader at Hope House for decades, effective leadership requires the following:
• The facilitation of constant, high-level communication with and among the staff – not only regarding the mission itself, but regarding each person's role in bringing those words to life with a sense of empowerment that their decisions will be supported.
• Ongoing communication with all stakeholders and collaborators (funders, government, citizens, non-profit and for-profit partners), making clear the alignment between our mission and the health of the area's communities.
• The ability to galvanize stakeholders in the pursuit of partnership-driven solutions to the unique opportunities and challenges facing Hope House.
• Clear and effective communication with those who may be willing to act as ambassadors of the Hope House mission by joining the fight for improved community-based funding and full inclusion for people with disabilities.
There are four key areas through which Hope House Foundation measures progress:
a) measurement and monitoring of the degree to which those we serve are meeting their individual goals and addressing barriers;
b) the degree to which those we serve actively participate in integrated community settings;
c) the continued affordability and suitability of our housing for those we serve and for the community at large;
d) the degree to which our community leaders, government entities and citizens support and understand our work.
Below are just a few of the outcomes of our strategic approach, expressed, for consistency, in terms of the indicators in the above question:
1. The Degree to Which Those We Serve Reach Their Personal Goals and Participate in Their Chosen Communities:
Our most recent survey revealed the following:
• 80 percent indicated that they are a member of a community-based organization, including gyms, churches, recreation centers, museums, civic leagues, etc.;
• 79 percent indicated that they pursue such leisure activities or hobbies as pottery painting, gardening and coin collection;
• 25 percent have volunteered over the past year;
• 82 percent indicated that they have pursued such advocacy work as attending a hearing, participating in a conference, submitting an article to Buzz, peer advocacy, input into staff hiring decisions or statewide advocacy;
2. Housing Affordability:
Not only do we provide affordable housing for approximately 120 men and women with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, but we also provide affordable housing for approximately 100 men and women from the community at large in search of affordable housing. All of our units -- secured through our affiliate organization (the Residential Corporation) -- are well below the 2016 HUD-determined Fair Market Rate of $953 for a one-bedroom unit for the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News metro.
3. Community Support:
One need only review the words of the mayors of the communities in which we operate to gauge the level of community support:
Mayor Fraim: "Hope House is helping Norfolk achieve goals set out in our Five-Year Consolidated Plan...."
Mayor Krasnoff: "...a true neighborhood builder...."
Mayor Sessoms: "It is a pleasure partnering with this organization."
• 25 percent indicated that they had formed a friendship or friendships with someone who is not part of the Hope House program;
• 15 percent indicated that they work at least one day each week in a competitively secured job;
• 23 percent indicated that they work at least 2 days per week in a vocational (supported) setting.