CLA has a long history in the Houlton Community. In 1967 a small group of educators and parents of people with developmental disabilities organized a training program in a church basement, funded with money raised in the community. Initially, this private, non-profit organization was incorporated as the Southern Aroostook Association for Retarded Children (SAARC).

In the mid-1970's the New Horizons Preschool was opened. The group changed its name to the Southern Aroostook Association for Retarded Citizens to reflect the emphasis on services for all people, regardless of age. The Houlton Residential Center (HRC) was established in 1977. This nursing care facility provided a home for 35 individuals with intellectual disabilities.

As SAARC entered the 1980's a nationwide change in philosophy recognized that individuals with disabilities deserve to live in small home-like environments in their local communities, rather than large, isolated institutions. HRC began the process of downsizing. The Park Street and High Street Homes were opened in order to offer people smaller homes. Years of planning led to the closure of HRC in 1991. The HRC residents were moved into two new nursing facilities and another small home on Fifth Street. At this time SAARC changed its name to Community Living Association to express the goal of supporting individuals who live and work in the community. Since 1991 CLA has opened waiver (adult foster care) homes on Bangor Road, Green Street, Ruth Road and 2 on Joseph Street in order to continue working toward the goal of allowing people to live in small, comfortable homes.

While the residential services were expanded and changed throughout the years, the day program and work programs were also being transformed. In the 1970's these programs were housed in the Old Longfellow School building. However, the old building had many problems and in 1989 the new Roger Randall Center for Developmental Services was built alongside the old school building. Today people from CLA's residences, people from their family homes in the community and people from independently operated adult foster homes meet at Roger Randall Center to receive training and supported employment services. Other work and training programs have evolved in the 1980's and 1990's.

Since 1967 CLA has grown from a small nonprofit group employing one person to the second largest employer in the town of Houlton. The number of people with developmental disabilities served by the association has also grown.

Although CLA's fundamental mission has always been to provide services to people with developmental disabilities, its mission statement today has a special focus on community inclusion.


Community Living Association has four Assisted Living Homes: East Side, Guy Street, Pearce Brook and Joseph Street. There are currently seven Supported Independent Living Homes, where individuals live in their own apartment with staff support. CLA operates two Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmental Disabled (ICF/IID): Harmony Nursing Home and Forest Springs group home. We also have three Community Support programs; Roger Randall Center, Life Skills and Cornerstone. CLA provides administrative support to twelve Shared Living homes and provides case management services to over 180 consumers who live in Aroostook, Penobscot, Washington and Piscataquis counties.

We are 98% funded by Medicaid and have approximately 160 staff. Community Living Association is the second largest employer in Houlton, Maine. We have a training department and operate the Career Enhancement Center to ensure our staff are trained and qualified. Each employee is trained and certified before working on their own.