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Joining Community While On Disability

Joining Community While On Disability

This is a guest post by Lily Silver, who blogs at How to Get On, “a guide to Social Security Disability, Medicaid and Home Care for CFS/ME and those who are homebound.” She sent us this article about joining community while on disability, and we thought it would have some useful information for our readers. Please post in the comments below and us know if you have any additional ideas on the topic!

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If you are community-minded, there are many groovy, interesting, creative communities out there of every size, shape and flavor.

For people on disability, an intentional community may be a good option to explore. Your disability check is the same wherever you go, and many people find intentional communities are a way to be less isolated, have a higher quality of life, and live in a more meaningful way.

Here is a list of over 1,000 intentional communities: communes, eco-villages, community farms, land trusts, artist communities, cooperative houses, spiritual communities, co-housing, and bunches more.

Here is a list of dreamers and seekers looking to start their own communities or find their “people.” You can post your dreams here or read through and see what others have posted.

Now some tips:

Community Tip #1

If you are simply looking for cheap housing, this won’t be a good match for you. These communities are seeking people who are like-minded and genuinely wish to be part of their community life.

Community Tip #2

Most people visit more than one community before finding one they click with. For a person with disabilities, this is easier said then done. If you are able, it is nice to be able to explore.

Community Tip #3

Don’t be shocked if what you read on the website is not the same as what you find when you arrive. Some people are “aspirational” when writing these websites. The person who wrote the website may have had big dreams. They may also be long gone by now.

Community Tip #4

Some communities ask for work contributions and others do not. If you are too ill to work, it is still possible to find a community that may be a great match for you. In some places, the work contribution is small, like one day per month. If you cannot build buildings or dig ditches, there are usually some gentler, more sedentary way you can contribute.

Community Tip #5

Don’t be scared off if you feel you don’t have enough to contribute. If you are a nice person, and you get along well with the people there, and you have a stable income from your disability check, and you wish to be part of the community life, there are many communities that may be happy to have you there. Be persistent and contact as many communities as you can until you find one that might work for your situation.

Community Tip #6

In some communities, all finances are separate and each person has their own independent life. Other communities are “income sharing” or “egalitarian” and resources and money are shared. Some income-sharing communities may require a full-time work contribution, but others have a more flexible approach (like the one in this article: A Radical Idea: Four City Dwellers Share All Their Money). Some may be ideal for people with disabilities.

Community Tip #7

If you are disabled, some newly-forming communities may not be the best match for you. These communities are often looking for people that can construct buildings and cultivate the land. Keep an eye out for more established communities where the buildings are already built.

Community Tip #8

If you are unable to care for yourself and need assistance, you may find it difficult or impossible to find a community that will accommodate this. Try looking into homecare programs that can provide you with a caregiver. This may give you more options for more communities to join.

Community Tip #9

Some communities are quite pricey and some are dirt cheap. “Co-housing” communities in particular tend to be on the pricey, middle class side. If you are poor, they may not be a good match. But if you see somewhere you just love, it does not hurt to contact them and ask. Someone in the community may have a room or space available for rent.

Community Tip #10

In some communities all your finances are kept separate and you just do your own thing, others have a more alternative approach to money. It’s a good idea to talk with the community and create an arrangement that will work for you. It may be helpful to keep in mind that the amount of rent you pay can change your SSI check. The way you buy and eat food can change your Food Stamps. Also, if you sign on as a co-owner on any community businesses or properties, this could cause complications with your benefits.

Community Tip #11

Some communities require a buy-in or join fee or land purchase. For a new or forming community, it may be hard to join in if you don’t have financial means.

On the other hand, for an older established community, the join-in fees may be a bit more flexible. If the community is large and located in an isolated area, there are more than likely a few houses or rooms sitting empty by now. Someone might be quite pleased to rent you one of these places, and you might be quite pleased with the amount of rent they charge. Some years back, I visited a land trust community. The website mentioned nothing about being able to rent, but when I got there, there were plenty of empty rooms and houses, and plenty of options.

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Originally published at How to Get On.

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We happily link to the following organizations, all of whom share our strong commitment to promoting community and a more cooperative world:
Cohousing The Federation of Egalitarian Communities - Communes Coop Community Cooperative Sustainable Intentional North American Students of Cooperation Global Ecovillage Network