Melanie Fry, a lead policy consultant in the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Disability Services Division, was honored with the Inclusive Housing Award from The Arc Minnesota. The award was presented at the organization’s banquet Nov. 16. Fry was recognized for her leadership in DHS programs that support independent, community living for people with disabilities, including the Housing Access Services program.
A partnership between The Arc Minnesota and DHS since 2009, the Housing Access Services program has moved 600 people with disabilities to homes of their own. The program is open to adults of all ages who are eligible for Medical Assistance home care or waiver programs and to people who had been living in their family home, group homes or assisted living. The program also serves the homeless.
“Lives are better because of Melanie Fry,” said Scott Schifsky, program director for The Arc Minnesota. He nominated her for the award. “Melanie understands that quality services and supports are interlinked and that achieving success in one area of living may require supports in another. Her advocacy for individualized, one-person-at-a-time supports and services has created opportunities for individuals to be more independent than they had previously thought possible.”
DHS received funding for the program in 2009 as part of a legislative package that included a moratorium on corporate foster care. Through a request for proposal process, Arc Minnesota was awarded grant dollars to implement Housing Access Services and develop materials to promote inclusive community living and help people move into their own homes. Housing Access Services has being expanded into the menu of services for home and community-based service waivers, and additional providers will be enrolled.
“When we requested and received the legislative appropriation for housing access grants, we had high hopes for what this could do to help people move into homes of their own and inform development of future housing assistance for people with disabilities of all ages,” said Alex Bartolic, Disability Services Division director. “The Arc Minnesota and their local chapters made that a reality.”