Housing policy is disability policy, particularly for low-income households served by federal housing programs. People with disabilities are overrepresented in federally assisted rental housing, with 407 out of every 1,000 assisted households reporting a disability. Few of these households receive reasonable accommodations that allow them to physically access their housing units, even when requested, and fewer still receive service supports that may be necessary for independent living. And while evidence shows that discrimination prevents many people with disabilities from accessing housing, much less is known about how disability affects their ability to stay stably housed. This project will explore the opportunities and challenges within existing rental housing policy in advancing equity for people with disabilities.
The research team will collect data from experts working at the intersections of housing and disability as well as those with lived experience in navigating federal housing programs with one or more disabilities. They will conduct a series of interviews with field experts who manage federally assisted rental housing properties and those who represent the interests of people living in those units to better understand the policies that affect rental housing access and their effects on people with disabilities. Findings from these interviews will support a series of virtual focus groups. Each group will target different assisted housing programs to identify best practices and promote policy change related to unit, building, and community design and accessibility; processes, staffing, and funding for reasonable accommodation requests; service supports for independent living and community integration; perceived outcomes for tenants; and other emergent topics.