The Bulletin Board

Survey aims to shed light on housing insecurity among people with developmental disabilities

By: - September 27, 2021 4:17 pm
A construction worker stands atop a house frame

ABLE NH is looking into the availability of affordable housing, and how that availability is affecting those with developmental disabilities. (Getty Images)

A leading New Hampshire disability rights group is surveying housing accessibility for people with developmental disabilities in New Hampshire, focusing on what the organization says is a threat of homelessness across the state.

In an online survey distributed to its members, ABLE NH is looking into the availability of affordable housing, and how that availability is affecting those with developmental disabilities.

While many adults with developmental disabilities are housed by family members, those arrangements are often not permanent, ABLE noted in an introduction to the survey. 

“ABLE NH recognizes that family-provided housing is not a lifetime solution for an adult with a developmental disability,” the organization stated.

But given the initial readiness of family members to help relatives with disabilities and provide housing, the problem can continue unseen, the organization added. New Hampshire’s Bureau of Developmental Services and others “​​do not account for the reality of parents and other family members losing their ability (for a host of reasons) to indefinitely house their loved ones,” the organization said. 

The survey, limited to respondents who have a disability or have a family member with one, seeks to measure whether the family members are living with relatives or in-home providers – and whether any of them are homeless.

The survey also measures the family’s preference for the kind of housing that should be available to the relative. One question asks whether family members would prefer that a relative with disabilities stay with family or live independently but with community-based support staff. 

New Hampshire residents with developmental disabilities are eligible for services from the state, provided the disability originated before the age of 22, “impedes the person’s ability to function normally in society,” and is expected to last indefinitely, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Those services include support services for families that are helping those relatives, as well as community support services for people with disabilities who are living in the community.

But ABLE NH says that despite those programs many people with disabilities continue to have “unmet housing needs.”

The survey, the organization said, would help drive a campaign “calling for a strategic plan to create affordable, accessible, and appropriately supportive housing for individuals with developmental disabilities, with a particular focus on meeting the needs of people with significant support needs.”

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.

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