Tough Choices: People with Disabilities Face Housing Crisis

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Tough Choices: People with Disabilities Face Housing Crisis


By Mary O’Byrne, Esq., and Stephen W. Dale, Esq.

This is the first in a series of articles addressing scarce housing for people with disabilities.

The shortage in housing for individuals with disabilities has reached crisis proportions, with some special needs attorneys citing it as their clients’ number one issue.

“Pricing Out in 2012,” a joint study by CCD (Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities) and the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), found that “as many as two million non-elderly people with disabilities reside in homeless shelters, public institutions, nursing homes, unsafe and overcrowded board and care homes, at home with aging parents or segregated group quarters-often due to lack of affordable housing in the community.”

The situation results from a perfect storm of demographic trends, failed promises and budget tradeoffs. Prior to the 1970s, most people with significant disabilities lived in public institutions or at home with family caregivers. The history of institutionalization predates the nation’s founding, with the 1773 establishment of the first Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Mind in Williamsburg, Virginia.

By 1955, there were over 550,000 people housed in mental [...]

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