As someone with Cerebral Palsy, being independent is important to me. I enjoy having the freedom to make my own decisions. I knew that I wanted to live in my community rather than in a facility such as a group home. Unfortunately, living independently with a disability can be challenging.
There is not enough accessible, affordable housing available for people with disabilities. Apartment List conducted a study in February 2020 utilizing data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. According to the report, only 9% of households with a disabled family member reside in an accessible home. Even though more than 15% of American households have a member who is physically disabled, just 6% of homes are accessible. Finding an accessible apartment is only one challenge associated with independent living.
Some disabled people receive disabilty benefits, and can qualify for Section 8. However, this can be a years-long process. Justin Smith hasn’t been able to receive a housing voucher yet for his accessible apartment, even though it has been several months. Unfortunately, Justin’s situation is typical.
According to a CBPP examination of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data, only two of the 50 largest housing agencies have average wait durations of less than a year for families who have made it off the waiting list; the longest have wait times of up to eight years. Families in need of vouchers have waited on waitlists for over 2.5 years on average nationwide before receiving them.
Affordable housing is difficult to find nationwide. The National Low Income Housing Coalition discovered in 2018 that a person who works 40 hours per week and makes minimum wage can afford a normal two-bedroom apartment (i.e., not be cost-burdened) in no counties nationwide. My hometown had no accessible, affordable apartments available for rent when I moved out in 2020. I was able to find an apartment that worked well enough, although it wasn’t an accessible apartment.
Affordable, accessible housing represents independence for millions of Americans with disabilities. Disabled people deserve housing that is accessible and affordable. It is 2022, and nobody should struggle to find housing.
Acosta, Sonya, and Erik Gartland. “Families Wait Years for Housing Vouchers Due to Inadequate Funding.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 22 July 2021, https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/families-wait-years-for-housing-vouchers-due-to-inadequate-funding.
Sisson, Patrick, et al. “The Affordable Housing Crisis, Explained.” Curbed, Curbed, 2 Mar. 2020, https://archive.curbed.com/2019/5/15/18617763/affordable-housing-policy-rent-real-estate-apartment.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.