Total Living Concept (TLC) was incorporated as a Washington non-profit organization in 1982. Like many agencies that started in that time, TLC offered support to people with developmental disabilities to live in congregated group home settings. TLC had 3 group homes, Rainbow, Oxford and Green River. About 8 people lived in each house. Group homes were the norm for community support from the late 60’s until the early to mid 80’s.

In the mid-80’s, the State of Washington developed and began contracting for Tenant Support services for people who could live on their own with limited assistance ranging from a few hours a day to a few hours a week. These services were later expanded to include Intensive Tenant Support for people who needed more extensive daily support. What was different about these tenant support agencies? It was a progressive movement that was based upon values and principles that acknowledged that people had the capacity to live in homes of their own provided they had the necessary support and assistance to do so. People with disabilities either owned or leased/rented their houses or apartments. Service agencies were no longer both landlords and providers of services. It was the intent that people with more significant disabilities no longer needed to be confined to living in a congregated group, though, as it is to this day, it was typical for people to live in shared households with at least one other person with a disability. An additional principle guiding the development of tenant and intensive support services was that services and support would be “portable” by evolving and changing with people versus forcing people to move through a continuum of less restrictive living situations. (Which, in practice, had historically left people with more significant disabilities “stuck” in congregated living indefinitely.)

In the late 1980’s TLC began investigating the possibility of moving people out of the group homes to their own homes by contracting as an organization offering Intensive Tenant Support services. The group homes would be sold and people would move into apartments and houses in South King County. Once again, people did not necessarily move into their own homes and were usually sharing places with at least one other person and receiving TLC services and support. People and not the organization, however, held leases and lived in houses and apartments in typical neighborhoods.

By the early 1990’s TLC had closed its 3 group homes and assisted everyone who lived there to move to a house or apartment. Some people choose to receive services from other organizations that continued to provide group home services. A number of people who lived in TLC group homes are still with the agency and now live in homes of their own. They choose where that home is and who lives with them, if anyone. And, they choose when, if ever, to move to another place.

TLC underwent many significant, and at times difficult and challenging, changes to get to where we are today. There were at least 3 financial crises in TLC’s history. We survived each time. Many people, including people supported, their families and some previous employees of TLC were opposed to the changes. A few people supported exercised their right to seek services and supports elsewhere. However, those who remained and shared the values and mission of TLC are happily living in homes of their own now. In 2002, under new organizational leadership, TLC determined there was capacity to offer services and support to additional people. As a result, between 2002 through 2008, 17 additional people chose to receive services and support from TLC and remain with the organization today.

It’s important to realize that TLC never set itself up as an agency that would only support people to live in their own homes, without anyone else who is a client of the Division of Developmental Disabilities living with them. What TLC did start doing was asking people where they wanted to live, with whom they wanted to live and what kind of support they wanted chosen places with chosen people, if anyone else lived with them at all. All but two people chose to either have no housemates, or chose as their housemates other, community members who were not also receiving services from TLC. Two people did chose to live with another person who had their supports organized by TLC.

In 2010, TLC began subcontracting for Pathway to Employment services and support for 6 people for whom we were providing Supported Living services because people were not comfortable with the other options available to them. Several other individuals who were receiving services and support had lost the day services support that had previously been available; were dissatisfied with options offered to them; or, were not being offered services and support for a pathway to employment. This led to additional subcontracts to create such opportunities for people we support. In 2009, TLC entered into a contract with King County Division of Developmental Disabilities and is now providing Pathway to Employment services and support to up to 15 individuals for whom we also provide Supported Living assistance.

In 2014 TLC began contracting with King County to provide Community Access services. At TLC we refer to this as our Community Guides supports. This contract now supports up to 20 people around South King County.

We bring our hearts, passion and best selves, striving always to be not just a good organization, rather a great one in the company of those for whom our values and mission resonate. We have gained a national reputation as an organization that attempts everyday to listen to and respond to the individual vision of each person who has chosen us to provide support and services. TLC invites and welcomes those who share our passion and great desire to support, promote and accompany people who choose our support and services as they seek and realize personally meaningful lives and full citizenship. In the words of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, we continue together on this journey:

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on,
the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."