Meet Luke Koupal, a 23-year-old who enjoys playing video games, watching movies and all things Halloween-but most of all, Luke enjoys living in the comfort of his own home.
Adopted by Matt and his wife when he was just a baby, diagnosed with many special needs, caring for Luke had become part of their daily routine. But as the years passed, they realized there was a reality that needed to be faced.
“Where are they going to live, as we age and he ages where is he going to go? Luke loves living here, his house, with his dog. There are very few group homes and spaces available in Naperville, so we were really stuck as to what to do where was he going to go,” said Matt Koupal, Luke’s father.
Their plan- allow Luke to live somewhat independently, with his parents nearby for support. But the single family zoning codes they currently live under proved to be a problem. So, they teamed up with local not-for-profit Little Friends to help others understand the need for a change in the code.
“Luke is a young man, and as a young man he is wanting to do all the same things that peers his age are doing, he may do them a little bit differently, because he’s impacted by autism. So if you can have a situation where you can carve that piece within the home for Luke to have his own space and to still be a part of the Naperville community, that was incredibly important for the Koupals is that he is able to stay in Naperville, because Naperville was all he knew,” said Kristi Landorf, President and CEO of Little Friends Incorporated.
After trips to the Naperville City Council meeting and Planning and Zoning Commission, the Koupals found success- passing through a residential care unit text amendment that allows families with special needs members to create a separate living space associated with their single family home.
In their case, Luke would live in their current home with caregivers and potential roommates, with his parents in an addition in the back of their house, providing an accessible space as they age, while being present for Luke when needed.
“It gives us and other people like us an economic way of staying within our home as we age in place and provide the best possible care for kids that have a hard time dealing with change,” said Koupal.
Though the text amendment still needs final approval through City Council, the Koupals now have a new hope for their families’ future.
“It means everything to us, for us to be able to go out to dinner without having concerns because other people are there for Luke, for us to have that independence that we had not had, it means the world to us. And as we age our patience, our physical ability is going to decline, it’s just the right thing for my bride and I and more importantly it’s the right thing for Luke,” said Koupal.
City Council will make a final vote on the matter in September or early October.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek Reports.
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