Housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have changed dramatically over the past century. This change has been marked by a move away from institutional settings to more individualized and integrated housing situations that offer choice and community inclusion. There are many types of living arrangements for people with IDD, and the differing names and categories can seem a little confusing, especially if you are navigating the housing market for the first time. That’s why we put together this quick list of the most forward-thinking housing options for people with disabilities.
The Old Model: Institutions
Institutional housing developments for people with
disabilities are being phased out of the market in favor of more
community-based approaches to housing. For much of the 20
people with disabilities were often segregated from society in
institutionalized settings, regardless of their level of support needs. It was
a one-size-fits-all approach that did not take the individual’s own desires
into account and has since been deemed an archaic model for housing. In the
1970’s, a movement against institutionalized housing gained steam and new innovative
approaches to housing began to emerge. Today, the institutional model is
largely a thing of the past and has largely been replaced by the group-home
model where people with disabilities live together in small groups in their own
homes. While the group home model has been a welcome replacement for
institutions, more forward-thinking solutions to housing have emerged which
offer greater levels of choice and independence for people with IDD.
Bethesda’s campus in Watertown, WI in 1958 For much of its history, Bethesda operated a housing campus for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As the institution model faded away in favor of more forward-thinking housing solutions, Bethesda ceased operation of the facility in favor of several community-based group homes in the area.
Model #1: Supportive Housing
The supportive housing model allows people with disabilities
to live as independently as possible by subsidizing rentals and providing
access to intermittent support services. In a supportive housing arrangement, a
person with disabilities is able to live on their own and receive subsidized
rental rates through the
Department of Housing and Urban Development. Supportive housing helps
independently-minded adults with disabilities live on their own while also
receiving the support they need for every day tasks. It is up to the person to
determine what ongoing supports they need, making it a truly person-centered
Model #2: Shared Living Arrangements
Shared-living arrangements are a relatively new concept when
it comes to housing for people with IDD. In these living arrangements, a person
with IDD actually lives with another family in their own home, making shared living
one of the most integrated and community-based housing options out there. Not
only does the arrangement provide needed supports for the individual, it often
integrates a person into a family where they can feel that they truly belong. The
host family is given extensive training by an accredited agency so they can
meet the needs of the specific person they bring into their home. Shared Living
arrangements provide far more than a place to live for people with IDD – they
provide them with family.
Model #3: Integrated Community Living
One of the newest concepts in the housing space are communities
where people with or without disabilities live together in a truly integrated
environment. The goal of this type of arrangement is to break barriers and tear
down walls between people with disabilities and the rest of the community.
While this model is still in its infancy, Bethesda is
spearheading the movement toward integrated community living for people with
disabilities through its
Village project in Victoria, Minnesota. This community, one of the first of
its kind in the United States, will provide an energetic, inclusive environment
for active seniors age 55 years and older and independent adults with
People Bethesda supports in Minnesota were on hand to help break ground on Bethesda Cornerstone Village in Victoria Minnesota. Cornerstone Village is a first of its kind community in the United States where active adults ages 55 plus and independent people with disabilities live together in an integrated, inclusive community.
When you start to explore which living arrangement may be
best for you or your loved one, make sure you consider some of these forward-thinking
solutions to housing. Because you shouldn’t just settle for a place to live—you
deserve a place to call home.