Introduction to Housing
June 30, 2019
Independent community living – with or without supports — is a common goal for adults with autism. “Where will my child live when I am no longer able to care for them in my home?” is a frequent question and worry families have. Navigating the rules and regulations that govern housing and residential services can be complicated for adults with autism and families alike.
We offer the following resources and information as an introduction to help you learn more about housing options and to start you on your path to achieving this goal.
What is Supportive Housing?
The Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHA) is a great resource to learn more about supportive housing. A supportive housing model is not unique to individuals with autism or another developmental disability. According to SHA:
Supportive housing is permanent, affordable, lease-based housing for people of low income with access to flexible supportive services. Supportive housing is designed for people with special needs including those with mental, physical and developmental disabilities as well as people who are homeless. Supportive housing provides a safe, affordable home with access to support services so that individuals can live as independently as possible in communities of their choice.
The following video offers a clear and concise explanation of how the supportive housing model works in the community. Additional videos are available on SHA’s YouTube Channel.
Publications and Resources
“The Journey to Community Housing with Supports: A Road Map for Individuals and Their Families in New Jersey” is a comprehensive guide developed by SHA with Autism New Jersey. The guide (also available in Spanish) and companion of case studies are available for download.
A 50-minute webinar by the author highlights the guide’s key concepts.
Autism New Jersey has long advocated for preserving individual choice in community housing settings, encouraging affordable options that facilitate safety and effective treatment. Options can include group homes, supported apartments, and innovative intentional communities in a variety of settings.
A growing number of non-profit housing developers pursue private funding and government loans and subsidies to develop special needs housing projects in communities to help municipalities achieve their affordable housing goals. These developers may partner with a service provider or offer their own support services. Example: BCUW/Madeline Partnership
Funding to support independent community living with supports is two-fold:
(A) Funding for the housing itself (rent for apartment/home)
(B) Funding for the residential support services needed
Thoughtful special needs estate planning can also supplement housing and residential support services for loved ones. Always consult with a financial professional to ensure plans preserve benefit eligibility.
Funding for Housing
Federal and State governments offer housing vouchers and assistance to those eligible individuals in need (not just those with disabilities). Because of high demand, wait lists can be long and lotteries are held to reserve a spot on them to access this funding.
Federal Programs (e.g. Section 8): Federal housing vouchers and subsidies may be available through the local public housing authority. In New Jersey, the Department of Community Affairs administers this program.
State Programs: New Jersey also offers a state-run State Rental Assistance (SRAP) Program.
Supportive Housing Connection Voucher
Once an individual is enrolled in the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) Fee for Service via the Community Care Program, they become eligible for housing assistance from DDD, as funding allows. These vouchers are administered by the Supportive Housing Connection (SHC) and can be used to offset rental costs. Read SHC Voucher FAQs
Funding for Residential Support Services
Funding for support services to allow for an adult with autism to live independently in the community is available to Medicaid-eligible individuals via DDD’s Community Care Program. Learn more:
Looking for additional assistance?
Autism New Jersey offers guidance and resources for families to help them understand and navigate the complex path to obtaining housing and residential services and the policies that govern them. Contact our helpline at 800.4.AUTISM, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via LiveChat.