How Housing Leads to Independence for People with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities: Beth’s Story

By: Nicole Jorwic, J.D., Senior Director of Public Policy, The Arc of the United States

BethIt is empowering for anyone to be a homeowner, having an answer to “where do you live?” that doesn’t include with your parents. Homeownership is rare for someone with disabilities due to inefficiencies and lack of funding in the housing system. 

The patchwork system is complicated to navigate, leaving many families and individuals with disabilities staying with the status quo of the family home until there is a crisis, instead of being proactive and identifying housing subsidies and supports that may be available. Beth and her family bucked that trend. Beth knew ever since high school that she wanted to have her own home, just like her older sister and friends. Beth’s parents assisted her in learning what housing supports were available. Here is a little more from Beth about her story.

  • Where do you live? I live in Elmhurst, IL. I live in a ranch with two bedrooms and a basement. I just renovated my kitchen. 
  • What housing supports do you receive? I receive a housing voucher from the housing authority, which helps me pay for my rent. I can afford to stay in a nice place, in a nice area without needing to have a roommate. 
  • What do these housing supports mean to you and your independence? It means everything. I like not having to share my space; I can do whatever I want; I can leave and lock the house and feel like I am on my own.  I like to cut my grass and clean my house myself.  I have nice neighbors; we help each other, watch each other’s houses, and look for each other. 
  • What is your favorite part of having your own place? I like being like everybody else, having my own place, and having my independence. I like having control over my space. In a group home you may not be able to invite people over, or may have to sign people in. I have more freedom than that. I also like being able to have my boyfriend over whenever [I] want without limitations. 
  • Do you think there should be more housing help for people with disabilities? I think they should. [Others] are like me, they want to do it, but they may not have the chance to use their voice to share what they want, and not get access to the support they need to live on their own. 

The Arc of the United States advocates for more housing supports so that all people with disabilities have access to what they need to live independently, like Beth.