A survey conducted in May of 1977 that evaluated housing needs for mentally impaired individuals in the area discovered that there was a great need for community residences. After this discovery, a non-profit organization called Region V Committee on Mental Retardation, Inc. was formed. The Region V group acquired its behavioral health license in the mid 1980s. The group changed its name to the Horizons Center for Independent Living in 1990.
The Horizons Center for Independent Living opened its group home in April of 1980. According to Dave Lewis, the home is a "way for [residents] to have a normal life." Located on Williams Street, the home accommodates eight residents and serves an eight-county region. Several residents lived in institutions prior to moving to the Horizons Center. Many former residents have left the home to live independently in the community. The home also has an extra bedroom for "pre-planned, short-term care of mentally impaired adults living in the area." The respite bed is the only one in Horizons' region. The Horizons Center was the first of its kind to serve the area. While similar programs have cropped up since the opening of Horizons, the home is the only one with a professional counseling staff available twenty-four hours a day.
Residents must go through an application process before they can live in the home. Currently there is a waiting list of potential residents. Each resident has his or her own bedroom but residents share bathrooms. Residents are expected to help with cooking, vacuuming, dusting and other household chores. The group has volunteers who take residents bowling or swimming, teach them to knit, play bingo with them and provide other opportunities for recreation.
One of the biggest milestones for the group was getting jobs for all residents. When the home first opened, SW resources, a non-profit organization that employs individuals with disabilities, was not nearly as large as it is now. However, SW Resources now employs all house residents, allowing them to work five days a week and earn a paycheck in order to pay rent. The location of the home allows residents to walk to SW Resources. It is also located within walking distance of a church.
The Horizons Center is not without its challenges. Because it is an older house, the center has to maintain funding for household repairs and maintenance. This fund provides an ongoing source of funding for the needs of the Center and also provides community members a channel through which to donate.