Who We Are.
Ladder is unique to Western Michigan in that it fills the gap between 24-hour adult foster care homes and total independent living, neither of which is appropriate for a large percentage of people struggling with mental illness. None of the Ladder houses are licensed by the state or provide 24-hour care, but are operated with Ladder serving as the landlord and providing the support needed by the individual residents for successful independent living. There are few organizations in the state or even in the country who offer this type of supportive independent living housing which, in our experience, provides the kind of environment most successful to this particular population in their stride toward independence and inclusion in the community at large.
The People We Serve.
The residents of Ladder Homes are people with mental illness (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, some Anxiety Disorders) who are able to function independently with minimal support. The residents need to be able to monitor and take their own medications and follow the treatment plan prescribed by their health care professionals. They share in the upkeep of the house/apartments. Many residents work or volunteer on a part-time basis and/or attend school.
The Community Needs We Meet.
Ottawa County Community Mental Health serves over 2,000 clients with mental illness. Allegan County serves over 800. An additional unknown number receive care through private psychiatrists or are undiagnosed and untreated. Neither agency provides any type of permanent housing for people with mental illness. Excluding medical mental health care, the greatest unmet need for this population is appropriate, affordable homes. Many people live in group homes which are very costly and typically have more than one person per bedroom. Independent apartments are too expensive and/or unclean, unsafe, and often lonely. Living with relatives is usually not a healthy situation for the relatives or for the person with mental illness. People with mental illness make up a high percentage of the homeless; they are often inappropriately incarcerated in our jails, usually undiagnosed and untreated. The low priority our society gives to people with mental illness is a primary reason why appropriate housing is difficult for them to find. The cyclical nature of the illness makes it difficult to sustain permanent, long-term living arrangements.
With progress being made in our understanding of mental illness and the brain and subsequent improvement in medications, more and more people with mental illness are able to move out of hospitals and adult foster care homes and into the community, becoming productive, independent citizens. It is essential, however, for the community to provide appropriate housing and support on an on-going basis if people with mental illness are to be successful in their journey toward health and independence.
“Ladder gives each and every resident a chance
to exercise who they are…to be everything they can be.
It would be difficult for this to happen without
the assistance of Ladder.”