JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — One Kansas City area family is speaking out about the struggles of transportation and housing for their adult daughter, who has developmental disabilities.
Rachel Mast works part time as a greeter at a local hospital. The 23-year-old lives at home with her parents, but says she has a goal of living on her own.
"Having a pink house would be a great opportunity or a pink apartment," Mast said.
Mast also has set her sights on working full-time.
"The best part of my job is to be with other people and of course for everyone to see my smiling face," Mast said.
However, there are two barriers that Mast is working to overcome to reach her goals.
One of those issues is transportation, Mast is unable to drive.
"We have tried many different things...they left her and didn't pick her up three times at a job she was at. I had to go pick her up. What if I wasn't available?" Jawanda Mast, Rachel's mom said.
Rachel says she is fortunate that her mom has flexible schedule and has been there to help her get to work.
"My parents have been taking me and I am grateful for that, thankful they can take me to work," Rachel said.
The Masts are trying out Ride KC, which other organizations like Johnson County Developmental Supports use.
"Transportation can be really cumbersome for people who cannot drive or people who do not have a primary mode of transportation. So that's why we work with Ride KC and work with them so consistently," said Melissa Reeves, community relations manager of Johnson County Development Supports.
Another obstacle Rachel faces is access to affordable housing.
"Finding affordable housing is really difficult. It's difficult for you. It's difficult for me," Reeves said. "If you add a disability on top of that where there is already a higher barrier to getting independent living and being able to live independent, you are going to see that there is not a lot of opportunities for accessible housing, there is not a lot of opportunities for affordable accessible housing."
One organization is working to tear down the barrier to accessible housing, while supporting those with accessible disabilities with other basic needs.
"Friends of JCDS is a nonprofit that provides housing support for the individuals served here at JCDS. They currently own 21 homes and what they do is buy, build or rehab homes to make them accessible and affordable," Reeves said.
But demand for these homes in Johnson County far exceeds the supply. So for now, many people with developmental disabilities have to continue to live at home.
For Rachel Mast, she is okay with that.
Why? Because she says she knows one day, she will get that pink house.
"We want her to live on her own. However that looks like, if that's a house, if that's an apartment, whatever that looks like. She wants to be independent and wants to be like her friends that are 23 years old," Jawanda said.
Two Americas is part of a KSHB and Scripps signature issue to help introduce our community to the America you know and the America you might not know. Our role as the media is to share the news of the day, but we also seek to give a voice to people we don't hear from often.
Of course, there are many parts that make up our community, so we’re not just showing you two and we’re not pitting two sides against each other. Instead, we’re hoping to highlight solutions and showcase different perspectives to help us all better understand our area's culture, our area's past, and why our community feels the way it does today.