Where Will Disabled Georgians live?

CW: Housing Insecurity

According to a new study, Georgia lacks housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are thought to be about 240,000 Georgians with an intellectual or developmental disability. An accurate population count however is difficult to determine. .

The research, “Realizing the Promise of Olmstead,” was financed by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and featured a survey conducted online of approximately 1,700 people with disabilities and caregivers from across the state.

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled services for those with disabilities must be provided “in the most integrated setting possible.” The Supreme Court heard this case after two women with disabilities from Georgia wanted to leave the nursing homes where they lived. The State of Georgia denied their request. Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson wished to live in their communities.

A little more than two-thirds of survey participants who identified as having a disability said they lived in a community-based setting, such as an apartment or single-family home. 17% of people said to live in a host or group home. Others described living in a healthcare facility, a nursing home, or a school dorm.

Nearly half of those with disabilities said they lived with family members, while 44% said they lived alone or with roommates. Nearly half stated they rented their homes. Additionally, 4% of reported being homeless, which is double the percentage of Georgia’s entire population.

Nationwide , the lack of accessible housing means many disabled people are homeless. In January 2017, 24% of homeless people, or around 87,000 people, were disabled and chronically homeless. Individuals experiencing chronic homelessness have been homeless for at least a year or have been homeless at least four times in the previous three years, totaling twelve months. Unsurprisingly, those with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than their non-disabled counterparts according to NPR.

Approximately 40% of respondents claimed they had relocated many times in the previous five years. The most common explanation is that their residence has become physically inaccessible to them. Rent and transportation costs were also considered.

In February 2020, Apartment List conducted a study utilizing data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. According to the study, just 9% of households with a disabled member had an accessible home. Furthermore, 6% of homes in the United States are accessible. More than 15% of households, however, include a physically disabled member.

Among caregivers, about 84% said they were concerned they would no longer be able to care for their family member, prompting worries other arrangements would be needed. 

Caregivers said that the most difficult barrier to moving a loved one into a different living situation was a lack of housing.

In Arizona, 23 year old Zainab Edwards enjoys going ice skating. Edwards is deaf and has an ileostomy.

Her mother, Cynthia Elliott, now 71, began looking for a permanent living situation because she was unable to keep her daughter safe at home and was anxious about what would happen when she and her husband died. She and her husband purchased a townhouse after extensive research. The townhouse was nearby and within walking distance of a park.

About 7.4 million individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in the U.S. Approximately 1 in 5 of them, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, receive services from a state agency.

The majority of Americans with developmental and intellectual disabilities receive no assistance. Others are stuck on waiting lists for years or even decades.

People with disabilities have the right to live in an environment that meets their needs. Accessible housing enables disabled people to achieve greater independence.


Clasen-Kelly, Fred. “High Rents Outpace Federal Disability Payments, Leaving Many Homeless.” NPR, NPR, 15 Sept. 2022, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/09/15/1121848289/social-security-disability-inflation-poverty.

Fessler, Pam. “Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law.” NPR, NPR, 23 July 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/23/424990474/why-disability-and-poverty-still-go-hand-in-hand-25-years-after-landmark-law.

“How Two Women Changed Thousands of Lives.” Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Texas, 17 June 2019, http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/en/2019/06/17/olmstead20th/.

Nolin, Jill. “Struggle to Provide Housing for Georgians with Developmental Disabilities Remains, Study Says.” Georgia Recorder, 26 May 2023, georgiarecorder.com/brief/struggle-to-provide-housing-for-georgians-with-developmental-disabilities-remains-study-says/.

Silverman, Amy. “Million-Dollar Question: How to Find Safe Homes for Those with Complex Needs.” Center for Public Integrity, Center for Public Integrity, 19 Dec. 2022, https://publicintegrity.org/health/institution-of-one/find-safe-homes-people-with-disabilities/.

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.

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