Funding for Housing

Housing and Residential Supports Tool Kit

keys to a house hanging from the door knob

Once a family has considered the type of housing they are planning, they must next consider how it will be funded. There are a number of options below including housing grants for families with autism:

Agency‐Owned Housing

Provider agencies own and operate housing that is linked to specific support services. The Autism Speaks Resource Guide can help you locate residential service providers in your area. Agencies can have a variety of housing models, so calling them to discuss options and availability is critical to decision‐making.

When working with an agency, families and/or individuals should ask:

  • What type of housing models do you offer?
  • How long have you been providing residential services?
  • What type of training does your staff receive to work with an adult with autism?
  • What level of support does the staff provide to the adults with autism? Is support available 24 hours a day?
  • Can I speak with other families that are using your service?
  • How do the residents spend their time during the day and on weekends?
  • How close is the local community and how often do you access community resources?
  • Who provides transportation during the week and on weekends?
  • How close are hospitals?
  • What is done in a medical and/or behavioral emergency?
  • What is done to support medical and/or behavioral needs?
  • Do residents have a choice if they want a roommate and what type of roommate they would like?

Agencies that have contracts with their state for residential services may also have funding contracts for day services. Because of the shift toward more self‐directed services, an individual may live in a home operated by one agency and receive day services from a different agency, if that is his or her preference.

Self‐Funded Housing

Self‐funded housing is purchased by the family and/or individual using private money and/or public dollars. The funds are secured and directed by the individual and/or his or her family, not an outside agency. In order to pursue home ownership, families first need to determine if they can afford to purchase a house or condominium, or if they will need to access public financing. 

When exploring ways to pay for housing, families should consider all resources available to them and the individual with autism including:

  • Donations
  • Income
  • Grants
  • Foundations
  • Banks
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI)
  • Credit unions
  • Private insurance
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
  • Pooled trusts
  • Tax Credits

Individuals with autism and other disabilities are often eligible to participate in state and federal programs designed to provide funding to build and renovate houses. It is important to know that each program has distinct guidelines.

Most public funding for projects is contingent on the individual’s ability to pay for rent/mortgage and a social‐service plan that addresses health and safety. There are many public programs that offer assistance to people with disabilities and others with low and limited income. For a general overview of federal programs, visit the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) website.

Examples of HUD programs:

  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allows qualified for‐profit and nonprofit developers to apply on a state‐by‐state program for federal tax credits that they can sell to investors and use the proceeds as equity for the development of apartment complexes for persons below 60 percent of area median income.
  • Home Program provides formula grants and loans to state and local participating jurisdictions to expand housing opportunities for low and moderate income individuals and households.
  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are grants to jurisdictions which can be used to support affordable housing through land acquisition and infrastructure development.

Other Funding Options Other than Low‐Income Eligibility

  • Large donor/charitable organization – A single donor or multiple donors contribute the construction/acquisition funding through a 501(c) (3) organization that serves people with developmental disabilities.
  • Private pay – Families with resources pay for all services and the facilities together with other families.

Building a Team

Housing can be arranged for a single person, or for several people. If you are planning to start a housing initiative for more than just your family member, it is important to have a development team working with you to add expertise on issues such as funding, design, and property management. A development team may include a property manager, an architect, a developer or contractor, social service agency, lawyer, and a banker. Most development projects use a combination of local, state and federal funding options.

Read more in the Autism Speaks Housing and Residential Supports Tool Kit.