If you think there are no nice, affordable housing opportunities for people with disabilities, it may be that you haven’t made enough phone calls yet.
Some of our readers report that it takes 200-300 phone calls just to find the nice places with open waiting lists. If you haven’t made 200 phone calls yet, don’t give up hope.
We have heard from many people who kept persisting and eventually found nice, safe, clean, disability-accessible and affordable apartments (sometimes really affordable, like $25/month!)
TIPS FOR CALLING
🌷 Always call everywhere that says “seniors only” or “elderly” and ask if they will accept younger people with disabilities. If you are not on disability, ask if you can apply with a doctor’s letter. Questions You Can Ask When Calling About Housing
🌷 If you are able to relocate, you will have a lot more options. The further you can go the more options you will have. If you need to stay in a small area, it may be much harder or take much longer.
🌷 If you are unable to apply in person, you can request a disability accommodation to apply by mail or email.
🌷 It’s nearly impossible to tell how cheap or inexpensive rent will be from looking at the online listings. It’s also impossible to tell what is and isn’t available. You have to call each place and ask.
🌷 In some areas, you may find a housing agency that has organized a great list of all affordable housing. Unfortunately, this is rare. In most areas, any list you will be given will only be a very small selection and many opportunities will be left out. It is good to keep looking on your own.
🌷 Keep calling until you reach a live person. If the waiting list is closed, you can call back every month until someone can tell you when it will open, then apply the first day it opens!
🌷 It can be a big help if you can stay on as many waiting lists as possible. And look in as many locations as possible. You can get in one place to start with and then upgrade later.
HUD Apartment Search
Here’s where you can find the HUD Low Rent Apartment Search. If you want to see just the best ones with the shortest waiting lists, click on “elderly” in the search, and then call and ask if they accept younger people with disabilities. Warning: This list is incomplete. Many buildings are left off, and the information is way out of date. This is a place to start to see just some of your options.
Here’s where you can go to the The HUD map and search your area. It is much more comprehensive, but also a bit more confusing. Many of our readers have found that I had met is the most comprehensive and helpful tool once they get used to using it.
Affordable Housing Online
Here’s where you can Go to Affordable Housing Apartment Lists to search. This list is very comprehensive, but some of the places are mislabeled. Type in different zip codes, cities or counties to see surrounding areas. You can find zip codes in your area by checking this zipcode radius tool.
Update: This site now charges charges $5/month to view phone numbers. You can still search listings for free. It’s a very good resource so some readers find it worth it to pay for one month.
USDA has apartments available for people who are low-income and wish to live in rural areas. Readers report that some (but not all) are nice, safe, clean, and affordable. Here’s where you can find a map of USDA apartments. Or you can go to this Search by Zipcode page. Tip: If you type in just the first three numbers of your zipcode and you will be shown more opportunities in surrounding areas. You can also read Pansy’s story of living in USDA Housing
Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America offers VOA affordable housing in various locations. We’ve heard from a few readers who reported that the housing there is clean, safe, and well-maintained. If anyone else has experience with VOA housing, please comment below.
ArtSpace has 30 buildings for artists across the country. These centers offer living spaces and studios for low-income artists. Rents vary by location.
Section 8 is an affordable housing program where rent is set based on income. For people with low income, rent can be very low. For someone with no income, rent can be $0! Section 8 can take persistent and patience, but it is possible to find decent, clean, safe, affordable housing through Section 8. Don’t listen to people who say it is not possible! Section 8 Guide for the Plucky and Disabled
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
Housing vouchers pay part of your rent and can be used anywhere that you can convince a landlord to accept your voucher. Getting a housing voucher can take a lot of time, and finding a good place to accept your voucher can take a lot of effort. If the wait list is closed, don’t give up! How To Get Section 8 (Even When the Wait Lists Are Closed!)
Section 8 Vouchers in Other States
If wait lists in your area are closed, you may be able to apply in other areas, move there for 12 months, and then return (with your voucher) to your current area. This site has a list of Section 8 Voucher Open Waiting Lists. Warning: This list is very incomplete. It’s a good site to see a small selection of what is available around the country. It is not a good way to find all the waiting lists where you live now.
HUD has special apartments for people who are “elderly” or “disabled” (you don’t need to be both elderly and disabled, just one or the other). Many of our readers report finding this kind of housing nice, safe, comfortable and super affordable. Of course, they are not all nice, but many are. These are often one bedroom or efficiencies, though some buildings have two bedrooms. Waiting lists are usually 1 – 3 years, but if you call enough places you may find one that is six months or less. Take a look: Can Affordable Housing Be Nice? (Slide show)
Not Really Section 8!
In your search, you may find places that say “Section 8”, but then when you call, rent is expensive or not what you were expecting. Don’t be disappointed, just keep calling more places! Here’s a few examples of places that sound like Section 8, but are not actually Section 8.
Mercy housing is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing in more than twenty states.
NCR communities offers affordable housing in 27 states. They provide housing to seniors, people with disabilities and/or people who have been homeless. If you see something marked “seniors” be sure to ask if they accept younger people with disabilities. Run by National Church Residences, but open to all religions and backgrounds.
Contact all of the Housing Authorities listed below. Make sure to contact each one separately. They may each give you totally different information.
- State housing authority
- City housing authority
- County housing authority
- Housing authority for nearby cities
- Housing authority for nearby counties
Housing Authorities (try again!)
Don’t give up too easily. For each place listed above, make sure to keep calling until you actually reach someone. Don’t expect anyone to call you back. Call back every month and ask when each list will open.
Housing Authority Websites
For each of the Housing Authorities listed above, also check their website. There will often be a page that lists (some but not all) affordable housing opportunities in the area
If you are community minded, there are many groovy, interesting, creative communities out there of every size, shape and flavor – including eco-villages, communes, land trusts, cooperative houses, collective farms, spiritual communities, and many more Intentional Communities.
More housing programs in
- Southern Oregon
- New York
- New York City
- Minnesota Housing Benefits
Property Management Companies
Don’t forget to call everywhere marked “elderly” and tell them you are younger and disabled.
Gene B Glick manages 54 affordable housing communities in the Southeast and Midwest.
Hallkeen manages properties in CT, FL, ME, MD, MA, NH, NY, NC, RI, VT and VA. Many (but not all) are dedicated to people who are seniors or disabled and low income.
Stewart Properties manages more than 100 affordable housing properties in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.
Wallick Communities manages subsidized and low income apartments in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
Hodges Companies affordable apartments in NH and one in MA
SK Company – affordable apartments in CT, MA, NH, RI, VT
Not Poor Enough?
Some of the places listed above are geared to middle-to-low income. Learn more about How to Get Affordable Housing if You are Not Super Poor
Many communities have nonprofit programs that help low-income families buy or rent houses. Dial 2-1-1 on your phone and ask what is available. Also check community based mental health centers, veteran’s agencies, and disability organizations.
Sometimes Community based mental health centers, domestic violence programs and homeless agencies have housing vouchers. These are often unadvertised or secret. Even their own staff members may not know they exist! Ask to speak directly to the person who manages housing opportunities.
Catholic Worker communities are committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken. Some provide housing. You do not need to be Catholic to participate.
Facebook groups for people with chronic illness and disabilities looking to find roommates or improve their housing scene: Housing for Spoonies (Facebook Groups)
If you are living in or applying for affordable housing: HUD and Section 8 Disabled Residents & Family Members
Public housing is often affordable. Quality varies a lot. Please visit and research carefully. Look for anywhere designated “elderly or disabled” if possible.
If you have a mental health diagnosis and history of homelessness, many Supportive Housing programs are great! Try contacting homeless resource programs in your area. Also, try Googling the name of your state or city and the words “Supportive Housing” or “Supported Housing.” Here is an example of supportive housing in Virginia. Also, ask at your local Community based mental health center,
Most people on disability don’t live alone. Housemates can bring costs down. Unless you are in a really good housing program, it’s usually just not realistic. I’ve had good success living with housemates and have met some wonderful this way. I find it takes some time and care to find the right people who are really a good match. How to Find Wonderful Housemates & Caregivers
Keep at it! Dandelion made more than 200 phone calls when looking for good housing. She found a great, super cheap, clean, safe, disability-accessible place in just four months. If you haven’t made at least 100-200 phone calls, you haven’t even started looking! Dandelion Gets Nice, Affordable Housing QUICKLY
In some cases, a Social Worker or Case Worker may know about more housing opportunities, or may be able to help you get on waiting lists. You should still look on your own as well! There may be many more opportunities that your Social Worker does not know about: How to Get a Social Worker
More places to look:
- Independent Resource Centers
- Community Action Agencies
- Area Aging Agencies (even if you are young)
- Veterans Administration & Veterans Groups
Homeless or At Risk
If you are at-risk for homelessness, contact homeless resource centers. Contact both state and local programs.
You do not have to be living on the streets to be considered homeless. Many programs will consider that you meet the definition if you do not have a fixed living space, or you are sleeping somewhere not normally used for sleeping. Contact homeless resources centers in your area, plus statewide programs. They may have various housing options available.
Also: whenever you speak to any program on this list, be sure to tell them you are homeless or in danger of homelessness and ask if they have. priority for homelessness or know any programs that do. Be sure to ask if any of them know of programs for housing vouchers for the homeless.
If you are unable to care for yourself, Medicaid covers nursing homes in all states. You do not need to be on Medicaid right now to apply, and you may be eligible even if you have too much money for Medicaid. Some private nursing homes set aside a certain number of “Medicaid beds” and these may be nicer then standard Medicaid nursing homes.
In some states, Medicaid will pay for assisted living, which may be a small apartment along with meals and other services onsite. Learn more about states where Medicaid pays for assisted living.
In some states Medicaid will pay for Adult Care Homes – These may be small private homes where 2-5 people live and food and care is provided for people with disabilities. See link above for more info. Here is an example of Adult Family Care Homes in Florida.
Avoiding Nursing Homes
If you would like to avoid a nursing home there are many programs that may be able to assist you with staying in your home: How to Get Home Services to Avoid a Nursing Home.
If you are already in a nursing home, some state home aide programs have special funds available to help you with costs to transition back to the community.
Many states have programs available for housing for young adults transitioning out of foster care.
Developmental Disabilities / Intellectual Disabilities
Please look into Medicaid waiver programs in your state. The waiting lists are long (often 10+ years), but they can provide housing plus many other support services that can give you support and independence for many years to come. This page for kids waivers also includes many programs open to adults: Waiver programs.
Peer run respite centers can provide shelter and mental health support for short periods. Usually a week or two. These programs are run by people who have experienced mental health crisis themselves.
🌸 Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 Disabled Residents & Family Members
🌷 Having problems? How to Get Help or File Complaints for HUD Housing
Updated April 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: