A guide to housing assistance, what autism housing grants and programs are out there, and how families can get support services for their loved ones.
Today, I want to talk to you about a way to plan for the not too distant future of our children with autism. Specifically, housing assistance, what autism housing grants and programs are out there, and how families can get support services for their loved ones. To begin, I would like to share a scene from Mary’s life, as I’m sure we can all relate to it.
Mary stood in front of Tommy, straightening the tie to his work uniform. She was almost as proud of him as he was. He had landed a job as a greeter at his favorite restaurant. He already knew everyone who worked there, they had been there for breakfast almost every day of his life since he was little.
She knew he would love his first day. As she said goodbye to him, a bittersweet feeling came over her. He had accomplished so much, and come so far from that little two-year-old boy, first diagnosed with autism. As long as some days seemed to be, those years were short. Now he was fast approaching adulthood. Would it be enough? What would happen to him when she could no longer care for him?
The worries of a parent are many. The worries of a parent of a child with autism can be even more. Like Mary, all of us think about and try to plan for our children’s future as best we can, we worry about how they will support themselves when we are no longer able to help. Things like autism housing grants are important to know, as we continue down the road, preparing our child for independent living.
In most states in the US, a disabled adult can achieve independent living through affordable housing, financial assistance, their job, or a combination of residential services. Benefits are often extremely limited, and unfortunately many are not eligible. For those who are eligible, housing assistance in the form of housing programs may be available.
Know your rights
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), section 504, protections are made to prevent discrimination concerning housing for those with disabilities. This is an important truth for those looking into housing options.
Discrimination against those with disabilities is prohibited. Preventing them from building a house, renting a house or apartment, or making modifications to a rental to accommodate their needs (ramps, bathroom modifications, installing assistive devices, etc), on the basis of their disability is against the law.
Knowing the rights of people with disabilities is crucial to this process. Currently, autism is included in the list of disabilities.
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Know your needs
Once you know the rights of you and your child, it’s time to look into what kinds of housing options are available. Then you can determine what options will be appropriate for your child. Things to consider would be:
- How independent is your child able to be? Do they have the skills and life experience to live independently?
- What kind of home would best suit your child? Apartments, single family homes, or group homes can all be explored
- How much financial assistance would your child require? Financial assistance usually takes into account individuals and families’ income, including social security disability insurance and supplemental security income.
- Would home ownership be a possibility? Home ownership is a big responsibility for anyone. The ability to continue to live in a family home that has been willed to them, could provide security for your adult child. If they maintain and provide for themselves in a home of their own, that could be a great option
- Will they need rental assistance? For instance, do they have a job that will cover their living expenses, or will they need extra help to cover their rent
- What setting could meet your child’s needs best? For instance, more rural areas, or urban development
Thinking through questions such as those can help you figure out what program(s) to pursue.
Know your options
Finding out what options are available to your family member is where the true work begins. When it comes to financial resources the options may seem endless and limited all at once. It can be confusing, but there are ways to simplify the process.
Public housing authorities
A quick google search can help you find your local public housing authority. That is a great place to start to find out what programs are available, and if your child does or will qualify for benefits. Once you determine eligibility, you can find out what kind of housing assistance your child may need to find affordable housing, in a setting that is appropriate for their needs.
Housing grants for autism
The federal government provides assistance to people with disabilities. Supplemental security income (SSI) is public funding through the government, for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Housing grants for developers building homes for people with disabilities, in the state of Florida for instance, are awarded under the condition of the builder’s commitment to serve people with disabilities whose income falls below 60% of the median income for the area. These builders may construct apartment buildings, individual housing, or group homes.
For those who would like public housing, there are voucher programs for low and moderate-income individuals and families. Housing assistance in the form of housing choice vouchers, (also known as section 8) enable individuals with autism to access the housing that is right for them.
With a housing choice voucher, those very low-income families and individuals are assured clean, safe housing, of their choice, as long as their landlord has agreed to be a part of the program.
The other option is moving into subsidized housing. These homes are usually a part of neighborhood type setting built by the government specifically for low income families.
Other forms of assistance
There are also charitable foundations that offer grant programs specifically for individuals and families. These can offset the cost of things, freeing up financial resources for housing costs.
Scholarships are also available to those with an autism diagnosis. These scholarships are awarded, many with strict guidelines for getting and keeping the funding, including what the money is used for.
There are programs available in communities as well. Sometimes non profit organizations, churches, and even other residents can provide financial resources, or assistance through donations such as furniture, and other home needs.
Knowing your child can be set up within whatever community is chosen, and surrounded by those who are aware of and available to them can be a great comfort for parents, and make their adult children more comfortable in their home.
Preparing your autistic child for adulthood can be challenging. It can also be a very special time. Knowing what your options are for housing assistance can be one more box checked off the list.
Seeing autistic adults surrounded by their communities as they launch into a new part of their life’s journey is a beautiful thing. A parent being there every step of the way, just as they always have been, can make the transition that much better.
When we are at the end of our life, we can know that the effects of what we built with and for our children last for their lifetime, even the ones we don’t get to see.
Here are some resources I found that could be helpful for you and your family.