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What housing options are available for my adult child with special needs?

There are several different living options available in the Greater Los Angeles area for your adult child with special needs.

Housing Options

Family Home

Some adults remain at home with their parents and/or other family members, with or without support.

Independent Living (owning or renting)

Independent living means living in a house or apartment, owned or rented, with support as needed. This can include sharing an apartment or house with a roommate or caregiver.

Section 8 is a common name for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities afford housing.

Voucher recipients are responsible for finding a place to live where the landlord agrees to rent under the rules of the program. This means a person does not have to live in a housing project to use their voucher. The renter is responsible to pay the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount paid by the program.

The waiting lists for Section 8 vouchers are very long, so sometimes local areas close their list. However, because this is a federal program, your adult with special needs can apply to be added to waiting lists for vouchers anywhere in the country. When a list is scheduled to open, there is usually an announcement on the local Public Housing Authority (PHA)’s homepage.

There is typically a requirement for a 12 month residency in the catchment area of the issuing PHA. After that point, a voucher can be transferred anywhere a landlord is willing to accept it.

In some cases, it is possible for adults with special needs to own their own homes. There are many factors to keep in mind when considering this option, such as the ongoing costs of a mortgage, taxes and repairs.

The National Home of Your Own Alliance’s Home of Your Own Guide offers detailed information about home ownership for adults with special needs.

Family Home Agency (FHA)

This is a newer option available in California. The FHA is a private, nonprofit organization under contract to, and vendored by, a Regional Center. Through the FHA, approved homes offer the opportunity for up to two adult individuals with developmental disabilities to live with a family and share in the interaction and responsibilities of being part of that family.

Community Care Facilities (CCFs) – commonly called Group Homes

Community Care Facilities (CCFs) are licensed to provide 24-hour residential care to adults with developmental disabilities. According to the Department for Developmental Services (DDS), based on the types of services provided and population served, each CCF is designated one of the following service levels:

  • SERVICE LEVEL 1: Provide limited care and supervision for individuals with self-care skills and no behavior problems.
  • SERVICE LEVEL 2: Provide care, supervision and minimal training for those with some self-care skills and no major behavior problems.
  • SERVICE LEVEL 3: Provide care, supervision and ongoing training for individuals with significant deficits in self-help skills and/or some limitations in physical coordination and mobility and/or disruptive or self-injurious behavior.
  • SERVICE LEVEL 4: Provide care, supervision, and professionally supervised training for those with deficits in self-help skills and/or severe impairment in physical coordination and mobility and/or severely disruptive or self-injurious behavior. Service Level 4 is subdivided into Levels 4A through 4I, in which staffing levels are increased to correspond to the escalating severity of needs.

Click here for questions to consider when touring a group home (CCF).

For more information regarding housing options in the Jewish community, including group homes, contact ETTA.

For more information about adapting homes and other affordable housing options, contact United Cerebral Palsy.

Contact The Center for Independent Living Futures  for information about their resource guide outlining the Community Partnerships Model of Housing for Adults, designed to help find alternative paths to independent living.

SHARE! Collaborative Housing is a public-private partnership providing affordable, permanent supportive housing to disabled people in single-family houses throughout Los Angeles County.

What supports are available to help my adult with special needs in his or her home?

In California, services required to support an adult with special needs in his or her home are traditionally funded by the Regional Center. Generally, these services fall into two main categories:

Independent Living Services (ILS) - These time limited supports are typically administered to individuals who have already mastered most basic self-help skills but need some support learning the skills necessary to live independently. ILS can include training in areas such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, money management, etc. Some direct care services might also be included. Individuals living in a group home or 24-hour intermediate care facility that is licensed by the state Department of Health Services (DHS), or at home with family members, are eligible for these services.

Supported Living Services (SLS) – Supported living services are provided to people living in their own home or apartment. Typically, SLS services are appropriate for those who need more support and supervision than provided by ILS. Generally, these are direct care and skills training services that are more intensive than the services provided by ILS. For example, through SLS, an assistant might help with cooking or personal care for the individual with special needs.

It is important to note that some Regional Centers categorize services differently. Contact Disability Rights California for more information regarding available living arrangements and services, and your adult’s rights.

Click here for some questions for your adult child and you to consider when interviewing a supported living agency.

Your Regional Center service coordinator can help determine what types of supports may be necessary and available to help your loved one become as independent as possible in his or her home.

Wherever your adult child with special needs lives, it is a good idea to encourage him or her to develop effective daily living skills. Click here for tutorials on doing laundry, self-grooming, basic house cleaning and more.

For more information about housing, click here to be connected with an LAJAC Case Manager or Intake Specialist.

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