Housing Priorities for People with Disabilities


For most people with disabilities, finding a suitable place to live in the community is difficult, if not impossible. Lack of accessible, affordable housing is a major obstacle to independent living, one that persists for people who have disabilities of all ages,

Purpose and Anticipated Benefits

Discovering what people with disabilities need and want in housing and ways that centers for independent living can respond with housing services that improves housing for people with disabilities in their communities.


Rosanne Marney-Hay and Michael Jones, both with the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, assessed the housing needs of people with disabilities in cooperation with local and national disability groups (Association for Retarded Citizens, American Association of Retired Persons, National Council on Independent Living) and a local independent living center to obtain a sample of respondents representing a variety of disability groups. Also, 17 residents from Accessible Residential Options (ARO), a newly constructed, HUD 202-funded development in Lawrence, Kansas, for adults with disabilities, agreed to participate in the study. Participants represented a variety of disabilities across a wide age range.




These studies included: 1) a housing user survey distributed through cooperating advocacy organizations; 2) a national survey of independent living centers to assess housing assistance services provided to consumers; and 3) an evaluation of a HUD 202-funded housing program located in Lawrence, Kansas.

Respondents completed a housing user survey to determine housing problems and innovative solutions. The National Survey of Independent Living Centers focused on specific consumer and provider needs related to housing assistance services provided by centers for independent living (a term interchangeable with independent living centers) and requested information about housing assistance programs; state and local accessibility requirements; advocacy efforts to promote compliance with these requirements; and educational programs offered by centers for independent living (for example, information about accessibility needs provided to local builders). The survey was mailed to 152 centers nationwide. From Lawrence, Kansas, HUD participants, data were collected at three to four month intervals, via in-home interviews, both before and after occupants moved into the ARO units.


ARO results indicated that, with two exceptions, survey respondents were generally more satisfied with the ARO site than with their previous homes but wereless satisfied with residential services (for example, home and yard maintenance), and many occupants cited specific complaints with the maintenance workers at the ARO site. Respondents also reported less satisfaction with personal services (that is, attendant services) at the ARO site. This may be because several respondents moved from home and were first-time attendant users, while others moved from cities in which attendant services were better provided.


Marney-Hay, R., & Jones, M.L. (1988, Autumn). Assessing housing needs of people with disabilities. Independent Living Forum 6(3), 6-8