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People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), like all Americans, have a right to live in their own homes, in the community. Children and youth belong with families. Adults should control where and with whom they live, including having opportunities to rent or buy their own homes, and must have the freedom to choose their daily routines and activities.
- There are 5 million citizens with intellectual / developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the USA
- Only 10% have access to supports to live outside of their family home.
- 48% of autistic adults report feeling lonely, 57% report feeling depressed
(From the Autism Housing Network)
Being part of the community and living as independently as possible are among the most important values and goals shared by people with disabilities, their families, and advocates. A home of one’s own – either rented or owned – is the cornerstone of independence for people with disabilities. However, across the U.S. people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), face a severe housing crisis.
For people with disabilities, there are far too many barriers to housing. Without affordable, accessible housing in the community, many are at risk of institutionalization or homelessness.
Across the nation, many people with disabilities are experiencing an affordability crisis. Approximately 4.8 million non-institutionalized people with disabilities who rely on federal monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have incomes averaging only about $9,156 per year – low enough to be priced out of every rental housing market in the nation.
Many people with I/DD live with aging caregivers (age 60 and older). As this generation of caregivers continues to age, many of their adult children with I/DD may be at risk of institutionalization or homelessness.
An accessible home offers specific features or technologies such as lowered kitchen counters and sinks, widened doorways, and wheel-in showers. For people who use mobility devices, finding housing with even basic accessibility features (e.g. an entrance with no steps) can be daunting, if not entirely impossible or unaffordable.
The availability of affordable, accessible housing remains far less than the need, leaving far too many people with I/DD institutionalized, homeless, or in “worst case” housing (paying too much in rent to afford other basics or living in severely inadequate conditions).
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Complaints by people with disabilities often make up the majority of discrimination complaints received by HUD’s Fair Housing Enforcement Office and other fair housing agencies.
(From The Arc)
People with I/DD have the right to live in safe, accessible, affordable housing in the community.
- People must have freedom, authority, and support to exercise control over their housing, including choice of where and with whom they live, privacy within their homes, access to flexible supports and services when and where they choose, choice in their daily routines and activities, freedom to come and go as they please, and housing that reflects their personal preferences and styles. Providers should honor individual choices and preferences.
- Housing should afford people with I/DD the opportunity to interact with people without disabilities to the fullest extent possible.
- The health and safety of people with I/DD must be safeguarded wherever they live, but should always be balanced with the right to take risks and exercise choice and control.
- To ensure that people with I/DD can make informed decisions about where and with whom they live, they and their families must be given understandable information about the benefits of living in the community, have the chance to visit or have other experiences in community settings, have opportunities to meet other people with disabilities who are living in the community, and have any questions or concerns addressed.
- All children and youth need a home with a family that provides an atmosphere of love, security, and safety.
- Adults with I/DD should receive the supports they need to transition out of the family home when they wish to do so.
- Housing for people with I/DD must be coordinated with home and community-based support systems, including transportation services, and should ensure access to other typical public resources.
- There must be adequate funding of services to support people to live in the community. Funding must be stable and not subject to arbitrary limits or cuts. People with I/DD must not be subjected to unnecessary institutionalization or removal from their homes and communities due to state budget cuts.
- Public policy should promote small, typical living situations for people with I/DD. Information about innovative housing models that promote independence should be widely disseminated.
- Housing for people with disabilities should be scattered within typical neighborhoods and communities, and should reflect the natural proportion of people with disabilities in the general population.
- Public funds must be shifted from restrictive institutional settings to community supports. Institutional settings and large congregate living arrangements are unnecessary and inappropriate for people with I/DD, regardless of type or severity of disability.
- Affordable housing options must be available to people with I/DD, including those with very low incomes. Affordable housing programs must be expanded and funded to eliminate long waiting lists. Public policies must ensure that people with I/DD receive their fair share of all local, state, and national housing resources.
- Universal design and visitability standards should be adopted for all new housing. New and significantly renovated multifamily housing should include fully accessible units in numbers that reflect the natural proportion of people with disabilities in the general population.
- People with I/DD have the right to be free from housing discrimination, and there must be robust education, outreach, and enforcement of that right. People with I/DD must have opportunities comparable to those of people without disabilities to rent or buy their own homes.
See also Guide for Housing for People with Disabiltiesmore
The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.
The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a “no pets” policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.
Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For more information or to file a complaint, contact:
Office of Compliance and Disability Rights Division
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W., Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410
(800) 669-9777 (voice)
(800) 927-9275 (TTY)
For questions about the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act, contact Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST at:
(888) 341-7781 (voice/TTY)
For publications, you may call the Housing and Urban Development Customer Service Center at:
(800) 767-7468 (voice/relay)
Additionally, the Department of Justice can file cases involving a pattern or practice of discrimination. The Fair Housing Act may also be enforced through private lawsuits.
Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988
42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
24 CFR Parts 100 et seq.more