Housing Services

An Alternative to New Development, Acquisition, and Rehabilitation

People with developmental disabilities cannot always wait for an available unit in a new project, nor want to live in shared housing single family homes acquired by housing organizations. Also, the costs to the housing organization to build or acquire housing can be prohibitive in terms of the expenses and staff. As an alternative to new development or acquisition and rehabilitation is Housing Services. Services that are provided by housing organizations (NPOs) are designed to meet the immediate housing needs of persons served and families. Housing Services provides housing-related expertise not available anywhere else in the current system. These services help ensure consumers find housing through education and advocacy, information and referral, loans, grants, resident coordination, homeownership, and property donation programs.

Advocacy and Education

Advocacy and education is an essential housing service. It is important to educate developers, county/city officials, community members, funders, and others regarding affordable housing issues for people with developmental disabilities and advocate for additional resources to create housing stock. Additionally, it is important to educate parents and consumers regarding the vast and complicated topics related to housing such as Social Security issues, IHSS issues, Fair Housing issues, special needs trusts, and Housing Authority. This is a vital role that the housing NPOs should be playing.

  • Increasing access to and information about Section 8 vouchers by advocating with Housing Authorities to encourage them to apply for Mainstream vouchers, informing families when waitlists are open, and ensuring that families and consumers apply for vouchers when waitlists are open.
  • Educating parents and consumers regarding housing programs.
  • Educating parents regarding property donation and trust programs.
  • Collaborating with other housing agencies, networking with developers to secure additional housing, and information sharing to keep abreast of the most current information regarding increasing housing capacity for people with developmental disabilities.

Information and Referral

Providing information to people with developmental disabilities is a very important role for NPOs. This includes the timely distribution of information regarding housing opportunities such as rental housing and ownership opportunities, Housing Authority wait list openings and helping people apply for those opportunities, as well as linking people to available community resources. Some NPOs have a database of consumers that are interested in housing, websites with important referral information, and newsletters that distribute information about housing.

Grants and Loans Programs

Deposits and first month rent can be a significant barrier to moving into an affordable apartment, especially when the consumer’s SSI income to so limited. These programs help people overcome that financial barrier and allow them to move into their own apartment in the community. Grants and loans from housing NPOs help people with first and last month rent as well as the opportunity to purchase needed household items. Some organizations have loan programs where the money they loan for deposits is matched by the regional center. The loan is paid back over 12–18 months at 0 percent interest. The following are examples of grants and loans programs implemented by NPOs.

Resident Coordination

Resident coordination provides a specific housing expertise to assist residents, their service providers and service coordinators with housing related issues after they move into a set-aside property. The resident coordinator provides a single point of contact for the purposes of continuity and comprehensive communication. These services include:

  • Working with the tenant on fair housing issues such as reasonable accommodations and modifications.
  • Advocating for residents to ensure that they are receiving proper services for their housing needs.
  • Supporting and assisting property managers with implementation of community rules and regulations.
  • Coordinating regular resident community events.
  • Assisting in mediation of resident conflicts to avoid eviction.
  • Ensuring a safe and healthy environment for residents.

Individual Housing Assistance

Creating the housing opportunities is just half the solution. In areas where there is no development happening, an alternative is to provide one-on-one assistance to locate and maintain housing. NPOs that are providing these services work with families and adults with developmental disabilities to help them locate housing in the community that is safe and affordable. This entails developing relationships with property managers and landlords. These services include:

  • Intake and assessment
  • Assistance with accessing subsidized housing wait-lists
  • Locate appropriate and affordable housing
  • Assistance with the application process
  • Resolving housing-related issues
  • Security deposit assistance
  • Move-in and follow-up