305 8th Street is home to Sue a.k.a. the Puzzle Queen, Sheila, Money Mike, and more than a dozen other residents.
“I love living here, it is my favorite place, this is where I call home,” says Michael Dunn, also known as Money Mike. He has been a resident at 305 8th Street for almost a decade.
Since 1979, 305 8th Street has been a home for hundreds of adults with autism and other disabilities. Andrea Williams says these people have fallen through the cracks and don’t meet state waiver requirements for Medicaid.
“In the State of Alabama you have to have an IQ of 70 or below,” says Andrea Williams, the Executive Director of 305 8th Street. “Or if you are mentally ill and have a dual diagnosis or Asperger’s or Autism, you may not meet state waiver requirements to go into a Medicaid reimbursed group home.”
She says an IQ test is not sufficient and that Alabama needs to look at the person as a whole, as they do in other states, like Colorado.
Andrea says she has residents who are very smart. One speaks Greek, one went to college to study Japanese, and three residents can drive… but they still need assistance.
“You know, while they are very brilliant in a department, you can be vulnerable and still need a structured living environment, where someone can remind you to take your medicine so you don’t take it all or you rememeber to take it,” explains Andrea Williams. “And to have someone to help manage your money, allocate it for you, and do your bills for you.”
David Deleuil has been at 305 8th Street for four years. He speaks German, he can drive, and has worked jobs in our community. Before becoming a resident he says he was getting sick from the medication he was taking and was living in a trailer. He says the community at 305 8th Street has helped him become the best version of himself.
“305 8th Street is really neat, we go places,” shares David Deleuil, a 305 8th Street resident. “We go to special dinners, fundraisers, and stuff. Andrea is really here to help people who have problems and really have no other place to be, but be here. It is really not a bad place.”
In some cases, the residents had an IQ score just a litle too high to recieve Medicaid benefits. If it weren’t for 305 8th Street, their situation could be a lot worse.
“The reality is we have seven residents in our care who were put throught the DHR system because the families did not prepare,” says Andrea Williams. “They assumed that the brother or sister would take care of them, or the neighbors, and they went through the DHR system and some of them were homeless.”
Although these residents are not getting much help from the state, they are just thankful that they have a place to call home.
“There is no better place to live, I love it here,” smiles Michael Dunn.
It actually takes more than $14,000 a month to keep 305 8th Street up and running. Fundraising, donors, and volunteers are all a big part of the home’s success.
If you would like to help or learn more, just click here.