Housing for individuals with special needs is crucial for several reasons, as it plays a significant role in promoting their well-being, independence, and overall quality of life. It is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive environment that enhances their overall well-being and allows them to lead fulfilling lives. It is a critical aspect of promoting equality, dignity, and independence for people with diverse abilities.

Housing resources are state and often county or neighborhood specific.  If you are in need of housing assistance due to limited income, visit the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) local office directory: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/field_policy_mgt/localoffices 

Here are some tips for adults and families to consider when looking for housing for adults with disabilities:

  • Accessibility and Adaptability: Special needs housing is designed to be accessible and adaptable to accommodate the specific requirements of individuals with disabilities. This includes features such as ramps, wider doorways, and modified bathrooms, making the living space more user-friendly.
  • Independence and Autonomy: Accessible housing provides individuals with special needs the opportunity to live independently. It allows them to have control over their living environment, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-determination.
  • Social Inclusion: Appropriate housing promotes social inclusion by creating living spaces that are integrated into the community. This helps individuals with special needs to interact with neighbors, build relationships, and participate in community activities.
  • Safety and Security: Housing should be considered with safety in mind, addressing the unique challenges that individuals with disabilities may face. This includes features such as emergency evacuation plans, security measures, and supportive services to ensure a safe living environment.
  • Quality of Life: Access to suitable housing contributes to an improved overall quality of life for individuals with special needs. It allows them to live in comfort and dignity, reducing stressors related to inadequate living conditions and facilitating a positive and supportive atmosphere.
  • Community Support Services: Special needs housing often incorporates access to support services, such as healthcare, counseling, and vocational training. This integrated approach helps individuals with special needs to address various aspects of their well-being and development.
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: In many countries, there are legal requirements and ethical considerations that mandate the provision of suitable housing for individuals with special needs. This ensures equal opportunities and protection of rights for people with disabilities.

Being a tenant with disabilities can be an enormous challenge. Untreated mental illness can lead to homelessness. Lack of ability to earn income can lead to homelessness. Asking for accommodations for a disability can (illegally) lead to homelessness. Being a person with obvious disabilities can (illegally) lead to “nothing being available.” Click here for some tips for tenants with disabilities from the Tenant Resource Center – things to help, things to think about, things to watch out for. 

Accessible Properties for People with Disabilities

On March 31, 2016, the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled on the case of Equal Rights Center v. Equity Residential, ensuring persons with disabilities have access to the same level of housing as people without disabilities.  The article discusses a Lawsuit filed by the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a civil rights nonprofit organization, and the decision by the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland that the defendant must comply with the Fair Housing Act by ensuring that properties are accessible to people with disabilities before they are occupied, not afterwards. The court further ruled in Equal Rights Center v. Equity Residential that developers cannot avoid compliance with this law by transferring properties to another company following development.  Access the article at: