Housing for People with Differing Abilities

Every day, we work to show what people with differing abilities can do. We make this commitment because we want to make a better world for people like John and our colleagues with differing abilities. The world is better today for people with differing abilities though we still have a long way to go. The next frontier is the trio of jobs, housing and community.

Let’s put this challenge in perspective. In the United States, we have made great strides in providing education and medical support for people with differing abilities. John Cronin, our co-founder, is a great example of this progress. In the first three months of his life John underwent two major surgeries including open heart surgery. Had he been born a few years earlier he would not have survived infancy.

And John received a first-class education from the Huntington public school system. He never misses an opportunity to thank his aides and teachers. They prepared John and his classmates, several of whom work at John’s Crazy socks to live independent lives and contribute to our society.

John like so many others entered his 20’s educated, healthy and ready to work and live a fully independent life. And that is where our new challenges lie: providing jobs, housing options and the ability to engage in the community. It is why we created John’s Crazy Socks: to provide John and others with meaningful work. We engage with other employers to demonstrate to them the benefits of hiring people with differing abilities. (Check out the TEDx Talk that we made entitled, "Hiring People with Differing Abilities is Not Altruism, IT is Good Business.”) And we meet with legislators and policy makers to press for more job opportunities for people with differing abilities.

Finding hosing options remains a problem. There just are not enough housing options available for John and people like him, people who can live independently yet need some supports. We have worked with local municipalities to support new hosing initiatives. Recently, we learned of a new venture called the Piquets Lane Neurodiverse Community Project to be built in a nearby community. It will be managed by a well-respected social service agency for whom we have great admiration: Community Mainstreaming.

What could we do to help? We wrote a letter of support to the Town of Oyster Bay as it reviews the project. We share that letter below.

All of us can ask: what can I do? It might mean reviewing our hiring process at work. It might mean voting for legislators who support work for people with differing abilities. It might mean donating to an advocacy group or social service agency. It might mean supporting a new housing project. There are many ways to act but we do need to act.

Here is our letter of support:

To the Oyster Bay Town Board: 

We are writing in support of the Piquets Lane Neurodiverse Community Project Submitted by the Engel Burman Group. 

Finding adequate housing is a growing challenge for many Long Islanders but no more so than for people with differing abilities. We see this challenge first-hand. Our business, John’s Crazy Socks, has a mission to show what people with differing abilities can do. More than half our colleagues have a differing ability including my partner and son, John Cronin, who has Down syndrome. Finding housing is a major problem. There is a long wait list for openings in group homes and there are not many other options for people with differing abilities. We have worked with other developers and municipalities and have witnessed how difficult it can be to build project like the one proposed by the Engel Burman Group. 

This project will directly address this housing problem by developing 49 residences on the corner of Woodbury Road and Piquets Lane in Woodbury. I would expect that the Town of Oyster Bay would celebrate this opportunity. 

Community Mainstreaming Associates will manage this community housing project. We have worked with Community Mainstreaming and admire the work they perform. We are not alone: Community Mainstreaming has won awards for the quality of the work they do and the impact they have. This project will include 24-hour supervision, an activity coordinator, vocational training, and liaison with families. It will be a safe, supportive environment. 

The proposed building will be two stories with one- and two-bedroom units. Community amenities will include, but are not limited to, a fitness center, lounge areas, movie theater, game rooms, crafts center, basketball court, demonstration kitchen and laundry. There will be ample parking for staff and visitors and the vast majority of the residents will not drive. This project will have minimal impact on the surrounding communities yet bring a tremendous benefit. 

We respectfully ask you to grant Engel Burman’s request for a special use permit. 

Please let us know if I can answer any questions or assist you in any way in supporting this project.

Thank you,

John and Mark X. Cronin
John’s Crazy Socks