Is There An I/DD Housing Crisis On the Horizon?

Picture of a couch

There is absolutely no question that when it comes to the I/DD world, the times – they are a’ changin.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been involved in a conversation about the imminent CMS Final Rule updates lately, I’d have a whole lot of nickels.

What I wouldn’t have is any idea how on earth agencies can possibly comply with the new regulations, given the majority of existing residential programs.

There’s no way that they can.

I absolutely support every individual having a choice as to whether or not they have a roommate – but I wonder where all of those extra rooms are going to come from.

I know with every fiber of my being that small group homes and inclusive housing options are a better way to go in most situations – but with more people needing services than ever before, aging parent caregivers, and the movement to do away with institutions – I wonder where all of these small group homes and inclusive apartment buildings are going to be built and how soon we’ll be able to build enough of them to accommodate everyone.

And where is all of that money going to come from?

(Photo courtesy of Easter Seals)

If only money were the biggest concern.

The Nonprofit Quarterly recently published an article called The Affordable Housing Crisis of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and made the very good point that not all challenges are financial.

It explains, “In some cases, the opposition is from communities that simply do not want supported housing built. In Denton, Texas, last month, the Justice Department filed a Fair Housing Act complaint alleging that the city had discriminated against persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities by implementing a zoning standard that prohibited group homes and companion care homes through overly restrictive zoning.”

I see articles all the time – both locally and nationally – detailing neighborhoods’ opposition to group homes moving in. So, while I think it’s great that one of the Final Rule updates indicates that individuals need to be given residential options that include non-disability specific housing, I wonder where and how we’re going to build those options. If communities are opposing group homes, how receptive will they be to a mass quantity of inclusive apartment buildings? Are there enough people without disabilities who will want to live there? And what kind of people will they be?

I know that CMS is aware of these challenges. I know that changes this big do take time (which is why there are adjustment periods built in) and I know that the Final Rule changes are all definitely steps in the right direction.

I truly can see the vision – I’m just not sure how we’re going to get there.

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