Housing options are very limited for people with disabilities needing support services. Options range from living independently to having 24/7 support services.
Expenses, the level of independence, and the individual with disabilities personal preferences are determining factors in the choice selected. Living expenses (rent, food, utilities, recreation and clothing) are generally paid through personal income and social security benefits. Support services (staff, transportation, behavioral supports, therapies and vocational or day activities) are typically paid through insurance policies, or MedWaiver benefits. When selecting a residence for a person with a disability, consider if the location will allow the person to easily participate in the things they like to do. Can the person walk to stores, restaurants, banks, places of worship? Is it close to where the person works? Are there places nearby where the person can enjoy their hobbies or participate recreational activities?
See sections on Parent Supports – Medwaiver, Medicaid, Able Trust to learn more about funding options for housing expenses. SSI Work Incentives Program (WIPA) provides information on how a person with a disability may save a portion of their income for housing.
Home Ownership/ Renting/Leasing Choices and Living with Roommates
Mike Doyle, of TMF Mortgages, shared at the 2018 Housing Summit how and why families may want to consider purchasing a home for their child with disabilities. Mortgage companies have options available to create new communities by grouping together four residential houses as a PUD/HOA. This option allows for families to have ownership in the company caring for their children. This option allows for families to provide the supports needed by the selected provider rather than by an agency controlled home. In the handout below he explains how this work and how to contact him if you have questions or would like to pursue this option. Include link to “Purchasing Property for Children with IDD”.
Many agencies and families are beginning to invest or partnering with developers to create communities for those with disabilities. Many are being developed in Florida. However, there are none in Palm Beach County yet.
- Quest Village in Orlando – Quest Village will contain 48 single-bedroom/single-bathroom units complete with various amenities and a community center Click Here
- Promise in Brevard – Located in West Melbourne, Florida, the Promise in Brevard affordable housing community, founded in 2014. Click Here
- Arc Jacksonville – The community features 97 affordable one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. Click Here
- Noah’s Ark of Central Florida in Lakeland – Noah’s Ark of Central Florida currently offers two low-cost residential rental communities that promote independence and quality of life for residents with developmental or intellectual disabilities Click Here
- Loveland In Sarasota – The Nancy Detert Residences opened in 2016 to meet the growing needs for affordable residential options in our community. These three apartment buildings consisting of 42 units of 1, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom apartments. Click Here
Supported Living and Group Homes
- Jeff Industries’ Palm Haven Housing Project offers permanent, supportive and affordable housing for a limited number of individuals with mental health illnesses. Click Here
- Levine Jewish Residential Family Services. At Levine JRFS, we pride ourselves on providing the most innovative continuum of care for adults with disabilities in the country. Our continuum of services allows for various levels of monitoring and supervision and an easy transition between programs when a resident’s functional level changes. Click Here
- Palm Beach Habilitation Center’s residential options include three group homes and supported living services that allow people with disabilities to live at their greatest level of independence. Click Here
- The Arc of Palm Beach County. As part of The Arc of Palm Beach County’s commitment to helping people with developmental disabilities achieve their highest level of independence and inclusion in society, the agency operates four group homes located in typical residential communities throughout Palm Beach County. Click Here
- Local Group Homes (add link to Resource Directory of Group Homes document)
- National Alliance for Mental Illness – provides housing supports needed for someone with a mental illness. Click Here
- Angels Unaware, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides residential care facilities for individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities in Tampa, Florida. For information, visit their website or call (813) 961-1159. Click Here
- Quest Inc., serving Central Floridians with disabilities, offers a Supported Living program which ranges from providing group home situations to offering support services for consumers living on their own within the Central Florida community. Via their program, each consumer is assessed to determine his or her capabilities, and to identify individual challenges. After this assessment, the consumer and a Quest program manager work together to set realistic short and long-term goals, and to implement a support plan that will help the consumer meet those goals. To learn how Quest can help you on your path to living independently call (407) 889-4530. Click Here
Questions or observations recommended to parents/caregivers when deciding on housing
- Gather information about the different types of residential programs
- Attend advocacy and support group meetings to learn about residential opportunities in the area.
- Keep an open mind about the future options for the person with a disability.
- Apply for government benefits as soon as the disability is diagnosed; especially if a developmental disability. Unfortunately in Florida, there is an extremely lengthy waitlist for MedWaiver supports.
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the person to determine which residential setting best meets their needs. Consider what challenges might present themselves and how to address these challenges.
- Questions to ask when visiting programs:
- How are caregivers trained? What is the staffing ratio during each shift period? What is the turnover rate of staff?
- Are positive behavioral supports in place?
- Is the staffing level flexible to accommodate emergency needs due to behavior or medical needs?
Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books
Housing: Beginning the Journey
Written by: Iris Neil