Best Buddies Living in Miami Offers Unique Opportunity
Miami, FL, Jan. 30, 2024 — From the outside, Julian Rodriguez seems to have a traditional living situation.
He lives in a condo in Coral Gables, and like many college graduates who just moved to Miami, he’s looking for roommates. Rodriguez’s condo, however, offers more to him and his future roommates more than just a place to live.
The condo is a Best Buddies Living residence, a program that “provides inclusive, independent housing opportunities for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) where they can learn, grow and thrive,” ran by Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to “creating opportunities for friendship, employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with IDD.”
The Living program has five locations nationwide and is the only IDD housing program with a non-institutional structure that places individuals with and without IDD in the same facility. For people with disabilities in Miami, independent living options are slim.
According to the Technical Assistance Collaborative, individuals with IDD would have to pay 184% of their income from federal benefits to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Miami, the highest percentage in the state. Thus, it is unsurprising that while 62% of people with IDD desire to live independently, only 3% have been able to do so. This is where the Coral Gables location, which opened in August, is hoping to help.
“At Best Buddies Living, you are immediately greeted by a caring and excited staff, eager and friendly new roommates and a well-organized and supportive program that looks to bring out the best in all of its residents,” Rodriguez said.
For residents both with and without disabilities, the program offers great opportunities to socialize, ranging from group meals to sporting events, all organized by an on-site residential manager. The Coral Gables location also has a partnership with the University of Miami, which is just a five-minute walk away, to provide additional opportunities for residents.
“The community created at Best Buddies Living is truly special,” Naomi Harris, the residential manager at the Coral Gables location, said. “Everyone has their own lives, but the events I plan act as a springboard to create genuine relationships among the residents. The Living program truly exemplifies the Best Buddies mission of inclusion: people with and without disabilities living together, side-by-side.”
Like the other residential managers across the country, Harris helps the residents with disabilities learn key independent living skills and, through a partnership with the Best Buddies Jobs program, assists them in acquiring gainful employment.
Julian hopes that one day soon, the five available spots in the program will be filled with new roommates – and more importantly, friends — with and without IDD.
“The people you meet at Best Buddies Living become companions for life,” Rodriguez said. “You’ll find friendships you wouldn’t expect and discover aspects about yourself you didn’t know you had. I cannot speak highly enough of the Living program and hope others decide to give this program a chance like I did.”
To learn more about the Best Buddies Living program in Coral Gables, click here.
About Best Buddies
Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to nearly 3,000 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ 11 formal programs — Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies®, Jobs, Ambassadors, Promoters, Transitions and Inclusive Living— engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 46 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly one million people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org or connect with us via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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