FTL Receives Grant From the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

Freedom to Live is a young non-profit that is requesting funds to support (16) individuals with high level SCI by moving them from hospitals and nursing homes to independent living situations. The proposal includes the cost of moving the residents, providing rent subsidies for underfunded residents and in-home support services. The organization’s founder previously owned a company for (28) years that cared for individuals with ventilator-dependent quadriplegia in community settings. The reviewers felt that the program had a strong base of community funding and that Neilsen support would further strengthen non-institutional living for more quadriplegics. This is a model that the Foundation should watch closely for its potential to be replicated in other parts of the country.


FTL Announces Exciting Partnership with Coin Up

Very Exciting News for our Supporters Freedom To Live Foundation is proud to announce that we have partnered with COIN UP to raise more money & awareness for Freedom To Live…now you can download the COIN UP app, choose Freedom to Live and your virtual spare change will be automatically donated to us. Click here to check it out!!

How It Works?

Join Coin Up to make donating to FTL easier than ever! It’s a simple as:

Download the Coin Up app from the Apple Store, choose Freedom To Live, and register your credit or debit card. Every time you use your credit or debit card to make a purchase, whether it be filling up their car with gas or buying a meal at a restaurant; each transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar and is directly transferred to Freedom to Live at the end of the month. Set a monthly cap and receive a tax donation receipt because you are in control!

We will have a Coin Up booth at registration. Our Coin Up representative can help you download the app and explain how just $10-15/month from your spare change can make all the difference in the world!!!

Daily News – Housing for Disabled is Group’s Goal

The Freedom to Live Foundation, which aims to offer affordable housing for the disabled, was established in 1993 by registered nurse Mary Williams but has never been fully operational because of a lack of funding. But the group’s founder and CEO says there’s never been a more pressing need to finally get the Northridge-based nonprofit agency off the ground. Her goal is to create a program to complement New Start Homes Inc., a 25-year-old company that helps the disabled learn to live on their own.

Once the training process is over, Williams said, newly rehabilitated patients face a challenge in finding affordable housing that is accessible to the disabled. “Housing is the biggest barrier for a catastrophically disabled person to move out into the community,” Williams said. “You’ve got so many people who could live out there, but they’re just stuck in nursing homes because there’s not enough affordable housing in L.A.”

Through Freedom to Live, Williams hopes to buy an apartment complex where affordable housing could be provided to the disabled, many of whom have a Social Security Disability stipend as their only source of income. In an effort to raise $500,000 for the venture, Freedom to Live is organizing a fundraiser to be held in November, Williams said. In the meantime, Williams has negotiated with various landlords to lower rent on some units for her New Start clients.

One such client is Erik Gould Williams, who is not related to Mary, who was rendered a quadriplegic after a 1998 car accident severed his spinal cord. He was unable to find low-income housing that could accommodate his wheelchair and the $850-a-month stipend he receives from Social Security. “Most people, unless you reach some kind of (legal) settlement where you get a large chunk of money where you’re able to go buy a house, don’t have that opportunity,” he said. “And on top of that, I didn’t have any place to go that was accessible with a roll-in shower, lower counters, wider doors.” The landlord of his Canoga Park apartment was able to widen the doors and install a roll-in shower. But the kitchen counters are still too high and he needs someone to help him reach them.

“Ultimately, it’s to be as independent as you were before. If you have a high counter and you can’t reach the counter, you’re not independent,” said Erik Williams, who graduated last year from California State University, Northridge, with a degree in television production. “The challenge is, when I’m ready to move into a bigger place, there’s not a lot of places out there that are accessible.” Nationwide, there are 12,000 new cases involving spinal cord injury each year, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Nearly 89 percent of patients are discharged from the hospital to a private, non-institutional residence, such as their homes, and almost 5 percent are discharged to nursing homes. It’s becoming even harder to find housing, Mary Williams said.

“For years and years, none of my clients have been able to get housing – even if it’s lower-income housing,” she said. “If we’re going to help them have quality of life, then the freedom of living in the community is what’s needed.” One of her current clients, Robbie Leonard, who has been in a wheelchair since he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 12, has been eager to move out on his own. Leonard, a 25-year-old graphic design student at Pierce College, has lived at a New Start home in Woodland Hills for the last two years. A place of his own would not only help him get better care from his own nurse, but allow him to focus on finishing his education, he said.

“This would help get us going with our futures, help get us on our feet so we can go from there,” he said of Freedom to Live. “I feel like I haven’t quite lived as much as I possibly could. The more independent you are, the more you actually feel like a part of the community.” For more information, call 818-403-5656 or visit

  • From The Daily News, 2010

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