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Creative Commons License photo credit: shapeshift

HUD Tips for Parents and Guardians of People with Disabilities| Part 1

Housing for Urban Development (HUD.gov) has a “housing choice voucher program” (HCV) for people with disabilities and other low income families. They describe it as a three way partnership between HUD, the owner and the family.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on HUD. I am sharing my personal experience to the best of my ability. Please check with your local HUD.gov office.

Over ten years ago, I learned about the HUD rent vouchers from my brother Steve, and the actual process was like trying to win a radio show contest: There was an open enrollment period on one day, call between 1:00 and 3:00 pm and the first 100 callers would get application forms. Another open enrollment period may or may not happen again.

On that particular day, I went to the County Board of Developmental Disabilities and using all five phone lines, we dialed in as fast as we could. Fortunately we “won” the chance to get an application. Because we were the first with intellectual disabilities in our area (of course) it took us a year to sort out all the details and paperwork for two non-married people to be considered a “family” with common housekeeping. Thanks to other pioneers like us, the Fair Housing Act, ADA, and other federal legislation I think this is easier now.

Supplemental Rent Subsidy

Aaron, our son with the label of autism, and his housemate only pay 1/3 of their income for rent, which is under $100 each and a rent supplement is paid directly to the landlord by HUD. It is based on the “Fair Market Rent” (FMR) and varies from city to city.

Aaron’s voucher allows him to rent in a neighborhood, not a segregated housing project. It is probably not the highest rent a landlord could get, but it offers a long term renter and a guarantee check each month. Most of the available HUD houses are in less expensive neighborhoods.

A non-profit board became our landlord. They even got a grant from the state for the $10,000 down payment for the purchase of the house. I understand there are some programs to help make the houses accessible under ADA, if it is necessary. We will be looking into that in the future.

Aaron was named the “Head of Household” which means he can take the voucher with him. It is “portable” and he could move it to another county or even state. It is my understanding, not all waivers are “portable.”

Additional Information

There is only one voucher for each house. I always thought this was a gift Aaron gave to his housemate.

Systems Change

I also am proud that our pioneer efforts have given many more people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to live in neighborhoods. My advocacy efforts at this “system change” have helped others. In our county, now most people with disabilities are either on HUD rent subsidies, or on their waiting lists.

House of Cards

I’ve written about some of our experiences and the multiple agencies being like a House of Cards 1, House of Cards 2, House of Cards 3.

I like to think of myself as a “glass half full” person, but when the agency which was providing residential support went bankrupt, I knew it was time for a fresh start to recover from the abuse and neglect we had dealt with these past ten years. More in the next article.


Remember there are no “right or wrong” answers.

Please share your thoughts. Do you have any experience with HUD? Any tips for housing for people with disabilities? Have you ever just thrown in the towel and started over?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward,

All my best,