CHICAGO — Baruch and Joyce Schur were out of options. They couldn't find anywhere for their physically and intellectually disabled 26-year-old son to live, at least nowhere that met their criteria or didn't have a years-long waiting list.

The 55-year-old couple made plans to move out of state. Uprooting themselves from their native Chicago, leaving friends and a family business, was the only way to give Josh a home — not an institution — that offered independence, a kosher kitchen and a sense of community before his parents became too elderly to care for him.

But then the Schurs took an even bolder step. They joined forces with five other families in similar circumstances to do what government could not: They created something better.

They become a nonprofit, raised their own funds, bought their own property, hired a design team and a social services agency to staff a home. This month, six young men — with cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome — moved into a lovely red-brick Georgian on a quiet, leafy block in the same Chicago neighborhood, Rogers Park, where they grew up.

The Schurs, who have two other sons, were being consumed by the day-to-day challenges of raising a child with cerebral palsy. The doctor visits, the financial pressures, the physical demands all exact a steep toll. For example, Joyce Schur would call her husband at work when Josh needed to go to the bathroom because she could no longer lift her 130-pound son from his wheelchair.

"I watched these kids grow up, and I couldn't believe that we had nothing for them," said Shana Erenberg, a special education consultant. "I was embarrassed for my state."

So when Baruch Schur called Erenberg in 2009 to say they had bought a house in New York that offered more and better services, "it was the last straw," she said. "He was the fifth or sixth parent to call me that week (with concerns about housing) ... and I just had enough."

For Schur, it was the only solution. "If we stayed in Illinois, we had two choices: A nursing home or a nursing home," he said.

That night, Erenberg set out to create a home that offered safety, friendship, kosher food, activities and interiors that said "Pottery Barn" more than "state facility."

She reached out to Alderman Debra Silverstein and, along with Baruch Schur, they identified six potential residents and took their proposal to the other parents, who listened politely, but didn't have a lot of faith such a vision would become a reality, Erenberg said.

"They told us: 'We're exhausted.' And we said, 'Let us carry the ball for awhile.'"

That's how the Libenu Foundation — Hebrew for "our heart" — gained traction. Parents and other volunteers scoured the nation for models, cherry-picking the best practices at residences from New York to Phoenix, then patrolled the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood for property, eventually settling on a three-bedroom home, which cost $400,000. They poured in another $600,000 to make it seven bedrooms and handicapped-accessible.

Each family made a financial commitment — although they declined to give an exact amount — and held numerous fundraisers, taking their story to anyone who would listen. The bricks and mortar are only one part of the equation. Services such as aides, transportation, recreation and personal care are managed by Clearbrook, an Arlington Heights, Ill.-based agency, and are paid for, in part, with public funding.

Many siblings of disabled adults suddenly find themselves thrust into the role of caregiver after the death of a parent, Doyle said. "They have their own jobs, children, lives and they call up and ask, 'What do we do?' They have no preparation whatsoever."

Joan Katz, one of the Libenu parents, was determined that would not happen. Her son, Jacob Mosbacher, who has Down syndrome, has been the beneficiary of years of enrichment and learning. At 25, he is an artist who has displayed at city galleries, has his own website and proudly pointed out the colors and finishes he selected for his new home, while she beamed.

"As a parent, this is a blessing; but for siblings, it's a double blessing," she said. "And for Jacob? It means he has a life."