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Eleanor Smith outside of an accessible homeTo live in and contribute to communities of their choice, people with developmental disabilities deserve decent, safe and affordable housing as well as access to the necessary supports and services. The Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act defines housing: to improve access to housing and community supports because there is a great need for accessible, affordable housing and supports that enable individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities.

GCDD Vision

The GCDD’s priority for Real Homes is to promote policies that recognize that housing is inherently linked to income.  This means ensuring that there are enough resources so that Georgians with developmental disabilities can acquire accessible and affordable housing, especially for individuals transitioning from institutions and nursing homes.

 

GCDD Public Policy Initiatives

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) - Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are matched savings accounts that enable low-income families to save, build assets and enter the financial mainstream. IDAs reward the monthly savings of working families who are working towards purchasing an asset - most commonly buying their first home, paying for post-secondary education, or starting a small business. IDAs make it possible for low-income families to build the financial assets they need to achieve financial independence.

Accessible Housing - Most homes have steps at every entrance, and bathroom doors that are narrower than other doors. Visitable homes are not “more housing for disabled or older people” but rather a fundamental change in construction practices for all houses. These homes are built for the open market with at least three basic features:
  • One entrance with zero steps.
  • 32 inches of clear passage through all interior doors, including bathrooms.
  • At least a half bathroom on the main (preferably a full bath), with designated maneuvering space within the bathroom recommended.

Visitable homes have at least these three features. A few additional, low-cost Universal Design features may be incorporated but to apply to virtually ALL new houses, the total list must be short, include the essentials, be cost-effective and be compatible with the needs of non-disabled buyers.House plans that already include a full bath and bedroom space on the main become not only visitable but livable for people with mobility impairments. Visitability means designing for basic access whether or not the first residents currently have disabilities. Visitability is a campaign to make the three basic features standard design through legislation, policy initiatives, voluntary implementation, market forces and advocacy from interested individuals.

Safe, Affordable, Accessible Homes -
For people with disabilities, including many people ready for discharge from institutions, terms such as “community placements” and “less restrictive settings” can and should mean affordable housing of their choice - - including apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes.  For people with disabilities to live independently in the community, they need decent, safe and affordable housing as well as access to the supports and services they want and need.  For very low-income people with disabilities, affordable housing usually means subsidized housing that is either developed or rented through government housing programs or disability service providers. The goal of any local, state or federal housing effort is to expand access to safe, accessible, and affordable housing for everyone (integrated) including people with developmental disabilities.  Integrated housing means that people with disabilities live in neighborhoods where there are people with and without disabilities.  There are four issues facing many people with disabilities related to housing:

  • Extremely high poverty rates
  • Desire to live in normal housing rather than in segregated and restrictive settings
  • Need for long-term supports and services in order to live as independently as possible
  • Desire for personal control, autonomy, and choice in one’s living situation.

In response to a law suit filed against A.G. Spanos Companies, Metro Fair Housing Services (MFHS), recruited more than 30 experts to oversee and contribute to the writing of the public policy report, “Shut Out, Priced Out and Segregated: The Need for Fair Housing for People with Disabilities.” The report is focused on the housing needs of people with disabilities in Georgia; however, the panel expects that much of the material will be relevant and useful to other states as well.
Shut Out Priced Out and Segregated: The Need for Fair Housing for People with Disabilities PDF File
(Text Accessible File)
Shut Out Priced Out and Segregated-Public Policy Report Briefing PDF File
(Text Accessible File)
Visit Metro Fair Housing Services Website

Other Partners and Resources

Concrete Change (concretechange.org/)

Visitability (concretechange.org/)

Department of Community Affairs 

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