The Reality of the Housing Dilemma for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Over the next decade, the CDC estimates that 500,000 teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder will age out of their school-based services and move into adulthood. As adults, the need and desire for person-centered housing opportunities is growing exponentially. An estimated 80,000 individuals sit on waiting lists that can be as long as 15 years. Aside from the social and moral imperatives to create housing opportunities, there are financial benefits to it as well. Typically, the average cost to place and care for someone in a group home is approximately $90,000 to $140,000 per year.

Inaccessible buildings

Many buildings are inaccessible to people with disabilities. This can present a major problem for people with disabilities who want to live independently. In some cases, inaccessible buildings can mean that people with disabilities are unable to live in their own homes and are forced to live in group homes or institutions. This is an issue that needs to be addressed so that people with disabilities can have the same opportunities as everyone else.

 As many as 50 percent of Americans living with disabilities are considered to be unemployable because they are unable to function in an office setting. As a result, they often struggle to find work that allows them to live on their own. That may lead people with intellectual developmental disabilities into situations where they must move back home or into a group home.

Inaccessible environments

Most housing is inaccessible for people with disabilities. It’s not just a matter of adding a few ramps or making doorways wider. People with disabilities need environments that are designed with their specific needs in mind, and unfortunately, most housing doesn’t meet those standards. This leaves people with disabilities at a severe disadvantage when it comes to finding suitable housing.

 What makes things even more challenging is that landlords aren’t required to modify their apartments. This means that people who want to rent have little choice but to make do with what they have. It’s a very difficult situation, as there are so few places where adults with autism can live in peace and comfort, without being discriminated against because of their disabilities. Sadly, many people give up on searching for housing or don’t even bother looking in fear that it won’t work out.

Inaccessible services

Unfortunately, in many cases, people with disabilities are unable to access the services they need to live comfortably. This is often due to a lack of understanding or awareness on the part of service providers, or a lack of financial resources. In some cases, people with disabilities are simply not given the same opportunities as everyone else. This can result in a feeling of isolation and exclusion.

 Fortunately, there are some innovative housing options that can help address these issues. The housing industry has been slow to adopt new concepts and technologies, but those who are doing so are offering homeownership opportunities to people who previously didn’t have access to them. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of offering financial services designed to make homeownership affordable or accessible.

Uninhabitable conditions

Unfortunately, many adults with autism and other intellectual developmental disabilities live in conditions that are uninhabitable. This could be due to a lack of support, financial instability, or simply because they’re unable to find housing that meets their needs. As a result, these individuals often live in unsafe and unhealthy environments that can negatively impact their health and wellbeing.

 A study conducted by a coalition of disability rights organizations, including ADAPT, discovered that 68% of those surveyed had been subjected to discriminatory housing practices. This translates to approximately 1.8 million adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and autism who are subject to illegal treatment on a regular basis, simply because they have a disability.

Lack of funding

One of the reasons why there’s such a housing dilemma is due to a lack of funding. People with disabilities often require specialized care and attention, which can be expensive. Additionally, many adults with autism also require comfortable living accommodations to help them feel safe and secure. Without proper funding, it’s difficult to provide these things.

Lack of specific needs support

Many people with intellectual developmental disabilities require specialized support that is not always available in traditional housing. This can include things like 24-hour care, assistance with communication, and accommodations for sensory needs. Unfortunately, this type of support is often not available in mainstream housing options, leaving many people with disabilities without a safe and comfortable place to call home.

 In addition to these specific needs, people living with disabilities and disorders can also face challenges from other occupants. People living with autism, in particular, may have difficulty understanding social cues or communicating effectively. This can lead to frustration and conflict when they are asked to follow rules that don’t make sense or aren’t explained clearly.

Political Bureaucracy & Barriers

It’s no surprise that there’s a massive housing dilemma for adults with autism and others with intellectual developmental disabilities. Some people with disabilities require care, attention, and comfortable living accommodation to allow them to live their lives to the absolute fullest. However, these individuals often face discrimination and are unable to find affordable housing that meets their needs. The lack of accessible and affordable housing is a barrier to independence and full community integration for people with disabilities.

 Inclusionary zoning is a policy in which municipalities require all new residential and commercial developments to include units that are affordable to people who fall under certain income guidelines. Inclusionary zoning can help local governments facilitate the development of housing that’s accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Solving this problem

There clearly isn’t an easy solution for this and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and the commitment of the broader community to  make a dent in this dilemma. We need more affordable housing options and more accessible housing for people with disabilities. For those who are able, independent living may be the best option but there is still much to be done before that becomes a reality. In addition, there needs to be better ways of connecting adults with autism who want homes but can’t find them, as well as better ways of giving caregivers respite so they can have some downtime.

We’re committed to tackling this issue but can’t do it alone and need your help. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help or get involved visit our website at https://frontporchcohousing.org/why-neuro-inclusive-cohousing/

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