Examples of Disability Housing Needs

Art: Robin Mead

Examples of disability housing needs reported by our readers:

Examples of Structural Needs

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • ADA compliant
  • A unit with no carpet  (for example: A person with severe allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, or mobility equipment that can be used more easily on hard floors)
  • Washer and dryer in unit (For example: Disabled person unable to travel or transport clothes to laundromat. Or person with multiple chemical sensitivities unable to use shared washer dryer)
  • No internal stairs
  • No stairs between bathroom, kitchen, bedroom
  • Central air conditioning (For person whose disability symptoms are substantially worsened by exposure to heat)
  • Steam radiators or baseboard heat – for disabled person with severe allergies to dust or mold in ductwork
  • Handicapped bathroom set up with grab bars, etc
  • Bathtub – For person unable to sit or stand during bathing
  • Off street parking or designated handicap parking spot
  • Suitable space for storage/use of medical equipment
  • Suitable space for physical therapy activities and equipment
  • Additional bathroom for family members whose disabilities require them to have immediate access to toilet at all times
  • Bathroom within x feet of bedroom
  • Windows that open
  • Open floor plan or wide hallways, allowing someone who uses a wheelchair or walker to freely access bedroom, bathroom, kitchen
  • Alarm system or other safety features for person with PTSD
  • Note: Some readers have reported having difficulties when stating need for bedroom doors with locked, particularly when children are in the house.

Additional Bedroom 

Examples of Location Needs

  • Housing within x blocks of caregiver or family, so caregiver can assist with needed activities of daily living.
  • Housing within x distance of doctor/counselor/treatment/care team, to be able to access necessary care and treatment.
  • Walking distance to shops – if someone is unable to regularly use public transportation
  • Walking distance to public transportation – if unable to drive due to disabilities
  • Number of feet or blocks from bus stop – if disability prevents walking distances
  • Number of minutes from hospital emergency room – for someone with critical condition that may need immediate response
  • Within service area for current disability services – i.e. meals on wheels, para-transit, home oxygen delivery, grocery delivery, home-based visits from physical therapists or other practitioners

Examples Location in Building 

  • End unit or unit is specific spot
  • Ground floor unit for no stairs
  • Top floor unit for more quiet/no one above
  • Specific unit that will be more quiet
  • Unit with exterior door, no hallway
  • Unit with interior door, hallway
  • Unit that is more private/less interactions with neighbors
  • Unit that is closer to mailboxes or laundry
  • Unit that is further from mailboxes or common areas
  • Unit with a different type or size of windows

Examples of External Features

  • A fenced yard for a disabled child that has a history of eloping or darting into traffic.
  • Designated parking spot
  • Handicapped parking spot
  • Flat, level ground between parking space and entry way
  • No porch stairs
  • Accessible porch – for homebound person to access fresh air and sunlight
  • External entrance – apartment must be accessible without going through common areas such as a lobby, hallways and elevator. For person highly susceptible to infections, or person with severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or MCAS.

Examples if Already Living in House:

  • You are medically unstable and relocating is a health risk
  • Your doctor or therapist determines that moving from your home would destabilize your mental health or cause significant problems for person with mental illness
  • Due to your disabilities, you are medically unable to complete the tasks of relocating (finding landlords, packing, moving, etc) and there are no available services or support people that can assist. (show documentation of everywhere contacted seeking assistance and what the outcome was).
  • No other available apartment suits your other disability needs, for any of the reasons listed on this page.

Examples of Timing Needs

  • Emergency medical need to move to a specific location. No other apartments available in needed time frame.
  • Urgent, immediate need to move because current apartment is unsafe/ unsuitable/ making person sick. No other apartments available in immediate/emergency time frame

Examples of Bedroom Needs 

If you are requesting a separate or additional bedroom, look here instead: How to Request an Additional Bedroom

How Do I Describe My Needs?

You and your doctor will need to explain the connection between your request and your disability needs. However, it is not necessary to disclose your symptoms or diagnosis. You can find some examples here: Readers Describe Their Housing Needs

How Many Needs to Include?

Some requests are simpler than others. And some housing programs and landlords approve requests more easily than others.

If you are a full-time wheelchair user, and you are requesting a wheelchair accessible unit, this request is usually approved fairly easily. Most housing programs recognize that wheelchair accessible units are medically necessary and more difficult to find.

For other types of housing needs, our readers report that they have sometimes found it easier to get approved by submitting requests based on a combination of different needs. This shows the Housing Authority why it may be more difficult to find housing based on a variety of complex disability needs combined.

Learn More

🌸 This page is part of the online guide: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

🌸 Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 Disabled Residents & Family Members

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

Updated February 2020. 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:

10 thoughts on “Examples of Disability Housing Needs”

  1. Hi just loss my Dad.. And my mom is going to be alone! They have home..with in-law apartment.. Own door..bathroom.. Bedroom.. I’m on section 8..also disabled.. Would I be able too rent..down stair’s.. On section 8.. At same time.. My mom will feel safer.. Knowing. I’m renting down stairs.. I don’t kno what rules are! Thank you.


  2. I have a unique scenario. I am currently on Affordable Housing in a building that has different levels of renters. After finding through my doctor and other sources, I have a rare allergy “carpet beetle larvae dermatitis” I already have several disabilities, living on a failed liver, lupus, crippling arthritis & am 51 yrs of age. Last Sept. I spent in several motels, bought new clothes, laundry in hot in motels, I went crazy. I had hematomas so large, my doc scanned for clots. These bugs live in my hair, food, everything. Since 8/19 I moved in, got bit a few times thought was a spider..by sept I was infested. The bugs live in my walls, plumbing, linoleum, ruining my new couch, etc. After going thru hell, landlord got me a fair & reasonable that I signed- saying only if a unit they own comes up- I supersede the list- but can change my rent & city. All my advocates are downtown. I can’t afford more than the already too high affordable rate. The bugs are back & I’ve requested 4 times in text. Mgr. Says bug guy hasn’t replied. Friends came by using vinegar sprayed all outlet plates, door knobs, baseboards, hundreds bugs came out. What more can I do? Mgr. Bosses say no one else is affected but me. I can’t even walk to closest bus stop. I don’t drive. My advocate lost funding. Help


    1. I’m very sorry you’re in this position. It sounds like the type of building you’re in doesn’t give you as many options for transferring because it’s not a HUD apartment. I would suggest to look for new apartments, with the hope of finding one that is HUD subsidized, so you might be able to find one that is a better match for you and has more flexibility. Some other readers here who have had this type of problem have found that getting rid of their belongings and starting fresh was the best answer for them. Here’s where you can start to look for new places: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/how-to-find-open-waiting-lists-for-affordable-housing/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m having the very same issue. But in another state, as I’m porting out.
    I have a question fir you, are you saying it “Is allowed” to rent a “room with Sec. 8 from a family member, it would just make the rent of lesser value. In my case I have basically the whole lower part of house, but share the kitchen.
    I’m TrueType hitting brick walls with this tho. They are a dine town about NOT allowing me to rent fro family !!

    Thanx KC


    1. If you are disabled, and this living situation is well suited for your disabilities, you can make this request as a reasonable accommodation. If you are not disabled, you cannot force them to allow you to rent a room unfortunately. Some housing authorities will allow it as part of their policies, but it is rare.


  4. What if you have a disability and need to rent a room in your parents house? My mother is willing to rent to me section 8 at her house and is my care giver so I asked the PHA where I live and they told me they could allow me to rent from my mother but she can’t live on the same property. The HUD rules state that the owner cannot live in the same assisted unit no matter the case. If I’m renting my own room and have my own bathroom does that count as a separate unit? Is there a way around this rule? I need her care. Please help and thank you


    1. This is a very hard accommodation to get… but I know of one person who did it, so it’s possible.

      You’d need to make two separate requests:

      1. rent a room instead of an apartment
      2. rent from a family member

      In this case your, mom would not be in the assisted unit… the assisted unit is only your room, not the whole house. The value of the voucher would go down significantly, so your mom would receive less rent.

      There are sections for each of these requests on this page: howtogeton.wordpress.com/sample-disability-accommodation-letters-housing/

      Another option would be to move out… you could qualify for a two bedroom voucher… then add a live in aide… your aide could be your mom or someone else. Whoever is the aide, they will not pay any rent and their income will be excluded.

      Hope it goes well for you.


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