Choosing where to live or to own a home are some of the most important decisions we make in our lives. Historically, people with mental retardation have not had the opportunity to make those choices. Fortunately this is changing, in small ways and sometimes, in very significant ways.
Not too long ago, many people with mental retardation were sent to live in large institutions. Now most people with mental retardation live at home with their families or in residential alternatives (small community based housing). Enabling people with mental retardation to have greater choice in where they live, with whom they live and from whom they receive any needed supports are relatively recent significant changes.
Actual home ownership is becoming a reality through groups such as
- Liberty Resources
- Home Ownership Through Participation and Education (HOPE)
- Self Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania.
The resources listed below can help you or your family member with disabilities learn about and choose among the various housing alternatives available. Having the opportunity to choose the place you live can change a house into a home.
Community MH/MR Agencies
Information about agencies in Philadelphia that provide services to individuals with Mental Retardation.
Residential Alternatives for individuals with mental retardation
Liberty Resources - The Philadelphia Center for Independent Living
Liberty Resources, Inc. is a non-profit, consumer driven organization that advocates and promotes Independent Living for persons with disabilities. More than fifty percent of their board as well as fifty percent of their employees are persons with disabilities. Liberty Resources provides Housing information including Housing News and Housing Help. Their Skills Training section provides the opportunity for people with disabilities to learn and practice the skills they need to live independently such as:
Liberty Resources also has information on home ownership and Section 8 Vouchers and new grants for housing opportunities.
American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT)
ADAPT focuses on promoting services in the community instead of warehousing people with disabilities in institutions and nursing homes. Attendant services (help with things like eating, dressing, toileting, moving from wheelchair to bed, etc.) are the cornerstone to community based services for people with severe disabilities. The Philadelphia ADAPT contacts are:
- Jimmi Schrode 215-634-2000
- Erik von Schmetterling 215/627-7255 v/tty
- Nancy Salandra 215-634-2000 215-634-2272
Send Jimmi-or-Eric E-Mail
Office of Housing and Community Development
OHCD is the City of Philadelphia's housing policy agency responsible for administering housing and community development programs to benefit low- and moderate-income residents. Liberty Resources operates their Special-Needs Housing Programs. Philadelphia has received $300,000 in grant money to make homes accessible. To apply for assistance through this grant contact Liberty Resources at 215-634-2000
1234 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency provides funds for decent, safe and affordable homes and apartments for older adults, persons of modest means and people with special housing needs.
Accessible Apartment List for Philadelphia County
A list of accessible apartments in Philadelphia with descriptions and contact information.
Fannie Mae Disability Access Modification Loan Program (PHFA)
The Program offers assistance to persons with disabilities, or who have (a) family member(s) with disabilities living with them, who want to be homeowners. It provides fully amortizing, 30-year, fixed rate conventional first mortgages for the purchase of homes, along with second mortgage loans for financing accessibility modifications. They may be contatcted at: 1-800-822-1174.
Philadelphia County Lenders
Home Ownership Through Participation and Education (HOPE)
HOPE provides valuable information to potential home buyers who are interested in purchasing real estate through the Sheriff sale process.
Self Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania
The goal of the Self Determination Housing Project is to build upon recent national and state efforts to increase the availability of affordable, accessible and integrated housing. By bringing together individuals committed to this goal, the project is expanding access to public and private housing programs and self-determination in housing for persons with developmental disabilities.
The Self Determination Housing Project has available educational publications for individuals with disabilities and their families. The publications are:
My Own Keys - The story of nine individuals with disabilities who have purchased their own homes.
Resource Guide - A housing resource guide which provides information on everything from assessing your current housing to renting or purchasing your own home. The Resource Guide also provides a list of funding agencies to assist you in achieving your housing goals.
My Home...My Choice - A video about people who have made the journey from living in an institution to living independently in their own home.
The Self Determination Housing Project newsletter which is published four times a year.
The publications are available online in PDF format or you can order them online through the project. The video may also be ordered online. For more information visit their web site or contact:
Self-Determination Housing Project of PA
6 South Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038
Toll free at 888-550-SDHP
The Association for Independent Growth (TAIG) provides assistance to the participant and their families in buying a home through their Home Ownership Technical Assistance program. Services include assistance in applying for a mortgage, finding a house, negotiating and closing the purchase, and coordinating the completion of any necessary accommodations. TAIG can be contacted at:
4700 Wissahickon Ave., Suite 100
Philadelphia PA 19144
National Home of Your Own Alliance
A Home of Your Own Guide
This publication is a joint effort between the National Home of Your Own Alliance and Fanny Mae. "A Home of Your Own Guide walks prospective home owners through the complex process of buying a home, from the initial decision to make the purchase, through the steps for acquiring a mortgage, and finally, to life as a homeowner. The new guide introduces a "person centered approach" to homeownership, which places people with disabilities at the center of the decision making process on issues affecting their personal lives and living situations." Call the Fannie Mae distribution Center at: (800) 471-5554 to order a print copy of the guide or view online at: http://www.alliance.unh.edu/Guide.htm
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA)
PHA is organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to develop, acquire, lease and operate low income housing programs for limited income people. Funds to operate and improve residences come from subsidies from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for people with disabilities.
HUD - People with Disabilities
This is one stop shopping containing information from all of HUD’s webs site. It contains general information, federal resources, fair housing laws, related links, and HUD resources. Some highlights are below:
What Is Visit-Ability?
Most homes have steps at every entrance, and have bathroom doors that are narrower than other interior passage doors.
Visitable homes have:
- one entrance with zero steps
- 32 inches clear passage through all interior doors, including bathrooms
- at least a half bath (preferably a full bath) on the main floor
Visitable homes are deliberately designed with basic access by residents who do NOT have disabilities. For more information visit the Concrete Change web site or contact them at:
600 Dancing Fox Rd.
Decateur, GA 30032
Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association
Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of veterans with a spinal cord injury or disease by assuring quality health care, promoting research, and advocating for civil rights and independence. EPVA is a chapter of the congressionally chartered Paralyzed Veterans of America and has over 2,000 members residing in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
Did You Know? Apartment Clearinghouse The National Accessible Apartment Clearinghouse (NAAC) maintains the only national database of accessible apartments, with a registration of more than 46,000 units. It is a vital resource for apartment seekers with disabilities and an excellent vehicle for owners to market their accessible apartments. To find an apartment, call 800-421-1221, or visit the web site at www.aptsforrent.com/naac/naac.html. (Source: Homewards Spring newsletter) Fax: 215-576-8650