Residential development for adults with disabilities could be on the way for Southwood

By: Mariel Carbone
December 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- A new residential development designed for adults with cognitive disabilities could be on the way for Tallahassee's Southwood neighborhood.

The City Commission voted on Wednesday to approve the negotiations of a long term lease of 20 acres of land in the Southwood community to Independence Landing. The undeveloped land is located between Tram Road and Florida High and is currently designated as park space.

Independence Landing is a not-for-profit corporation created to help build an affordable housing community for adults with disabilities. That community would include minimal supervision for residents. Allison Tant Richard is the chair of the organization.

"This is for people who don't need 24 hour, seven days a week care. They're not medically fragile, but who have benefited from all the societal changes of this last generation. The early intervention programs, inclusion in public education, the passage of the ADA," said Tant Richard. "This is the first generation of children with disabilities to routinely outlive their parents' ability to take care of them."

Right now, she said these families only have three options: finding other family members to care for their child once they can no longer do so, putting them in a group home, or putting them in a nursing home.

That's why she said a housing complex like Independence Landing is so necessary.

"The needs are significant. There are thousands in Florida looking for housing options because this is the first generation of people to outlive their parent's ability to feed them, house them, take care of them. So their is a significant problem with that," she said.

Commissioner Gil Ziffer has helped lead the charge on the city side and said he's glad to see the lease approved.

"Virtually all of us know someone that might actually benefit from living in such a place," said Ziffer.

At this point there are no renderings or specific building designs made for the housing complex. And, land use and zoning changes will need to be made and approved. That'll all require more public input and participation.

Plus, Tant Richard said she will also need to put together an application packet to present to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Currently, the state budget includes money for housing
complex's for those with disabilities.

She said the project could take several years to develop.

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