Best new discovery in the housing journey: Show Me the Rent .com is a website that allows you to search for apartments – including accessible units – in any area of the state. Take a look at what is available in your area. No guarantees of completeness, but it is a place to start.
Ask your son or daughter: How do you feel about having a roommate? Would you like to live alone or with a group of people? What do you need to learn to be able to live on your own?
Every state has a housing development authority. In Michigan, it’s the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). For help finding an apartment, start with MSHDA’s housing locator (but not sure this listing service show correct information about Spectran paratransit in Lansing.)
Word of mouth–It could take as long as 3 years to get to the top of the waiting list. When/if you do get to the top, you have to take what is offered anywhere in the county or else go to the bottom and wait again.
Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) are the most desirable subsidy because, as the name implies, you can choose to live anywhere (in theory). The government reimburses the landlord for what you cannot pay. You can find out more at MSHDA.
Lansing Housing Commission (lanshc.org; 517-487-6550) is another portal to some of the same opportunities. Do you own property? Would you like help to turn it into a low-rent opportunity? Lansing Housing Commission, or any local housing commission, is probably your best bet to speak to a human being rather that only view a website.
Affordable Housing Online has quite a bit of information about different kinds of subsidized housing, but I wondered if some spam I got was because of them. Two unsubscribes and the spam was over, so I think it’s worth spending time there and maybe signing up for their info. You can sign up for email alerts for the state you live in. These folks also have some “guides” that tell more about housing options, if you scroll to the bottom of the screen. You’ll be shocked by some info, such as “This county’s waiting list was last opened in March 2014, and it’s not known when the waiting list will be open again.” It’s clear there’s a housing shortage for people with disabilities who need reduced rent. Affordable Housing Online just started a “premium service” that has a fee, but I get lots of information without paying for the premium service.
Intentional communities are a throwback to the 60s commune lifestyle, but designed so that families and friends can encircle and support individuals who need extra help to live independently. Check out these in Michigan: Lansing Intentional Communities (LINCS), Intentional Communities of Washtenaw, and Saline Maple Oaks. Here’s a link for intentional community information around the US. Not all of these locations specifically include people with disabilities. Check carefully before you make the effort to visit a location.
Story of the Schuck Family
One of the biggest transitions for our adult child with disabilities was the transition to her own apartment. We signed up for waiting list openings to get the Section 8 voucher. One information source said that the waiting list in our county hadn’t been open in ten years, and they could not tell us when, if ever, the waiting list would open again.
When the list opens in places like very-populated Ingham County, it may be for only a week or two. Low income housing is so sparse that the waiting lists are full.
We applied to a couple of places. One was Alison House in Lansing. Another was an apartment complex in Mason. Our daughter, A., got an apartment very quickly, probably because the waiting list is arranged with lowest income individuals at the top.
She doesn’t have the voucher for people with disabilities, but the complex, only for older adults or adults with disabilities, offers a sliding scale. She was paying about what she paid us when she lived in our rental house. After a while, the Kiwanis club, who built the complex, offered her a subsidy that lowered the rent even more.
I stayed with her the first two nights, so that she could adjust to things. She is blind and has autism, with sensory hypersensitivity. But it’s REALLY QUIET there, and she wasn’t bothered at all.
So I’d recommend that you find the places in your town that have rents scaled by income, fill out their (probably lengthy) application, and also keep an eye on the waiting list. If you live in a rural place like Reed City or Baldwin, the list sits open all the time. If you live in a highly populated area, it may open very infrequently.
We get notices from Affordablehousingonline.com. I am not sure it’s the best place, but it’s the best I have found to monitor open waiting lists. Another place to sign up for information is gosection8.com.
A funny coincidence–or maybe not–
You just never know what will happen. Our daughter, A., has had two different people live in the apartment directly above her. One was profoundly deaf. The other is very hard of hearing. So what, you ask? A. plays the piano a lot. Now we don’t worry if she is bothering the person upstairs, who would hear it the most!
The Future Remains to Be Seen
One thing that surprised us came after our daughter had been in her new apartment for about 9 months. It turned out that there was a subsidy for a few of the individuals with the lowest incomes in the complex. When one person left the complex, the subsidy was available for someone else. Her rent is now less than half of what it had been. However, it all balances out: she’s not eligible for food stamps anymore. This is OK for her, though. Her particular set of sensory hypersensitivities has always present food problems. She now does less shopping and more eating out, which is what she has always preferred.
This super-low rent might be a factor if she ever decides to move again…she’d have higher rent in a new place, and then would have to use food stamps again to make her budget work. But as we say, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, or else we’ll have to pay the toll twice.
If you’re looking at housing options for an adult child with disabilities, the story “Not Tommy…Smart and Safe,” here on the Eden Transition blog site, might help you think through some of the kinds of things that can happen in an apartment situation.
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