A look at the living situation of many people with learning disabilities reveals they often only get to choose between living in care homes or their families’ homes. Many of them are not aware of the numerous inclusive shared housing options that gradually emerge in Germany and where people with or without disabilities live together. REHACARE.com spoke with Tobias Polsfuß, who founded the WOHN:SINN portal to promote inclusive, accessible shared apartments.
Mr. Polsfuß, how did you come up with the idea of founding WOHN:SINN?
Tobias Polsfuß: Actually, it was quite easy. I have lived in an inclusive shared apartment for more than three years now. Every time I would tell someone about it, I got the same response: "Wow that sounds great. I have never heard of anything like that before." I was surprised by that. After all, everyone should know about great ideas. I wondered whether there are more of these types of shared housing options available. And if these shared apartments are so inspiring, then why aren’t there inclusive shared housing options available everywhere?
What can visitors expect from the online platform?
Polsfuß: Everything you need to know about inclusive, accessible living. We have broken it down into three parts. Those who want to get an idea of what it’s like to live in an inclusive shared apartment or want to create a shared housing option can find many entertaining, exciting and informative articles in our WOHN:BLOG. Here, Neele and Adrian explain how they envision moving into a shared apartment as a couple for example. Or we summarize what we learned in a workshop from a lawyer. Based on different concepts, you can find out how an inclusive, accessible shared apartment works in WOHN:INFO. And you can visit the WOHN:BÖRSE to locate available spots.
What are your experiences in terms of the search for shared apartments and house hunting of people with disabilities?
Polsfuß: During our research, we came across a number: 60 percent of adults with learning disabilities (so-called "intellectual disabilities") live with their parents. I found that shocking. Don’t misunderstand me; there is nothing wrong with living with your parents. However, several conversations have shown that many only do this because they don’t have any other alternatives. And all this despite the fact that there are already many inclusive, accessible shared housing options available that are met with great popularity.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Polsfuß: It’s simple: to have a choice. For everyone to decide for themselves on how he or she wants to live, there needs to be an extensive variety of inclusive, accessible housing options everywhere.