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Department of Human Services (DHS) Housing Benefits 101

Housing Benefits 101 is a free Web-based tool that can help you decide where you want to live. At HB101.org, you can explore your housing goals:

  • Learn more about your housing options
  • Learn more about services and programs to help you in your home
  • Create a plan to reach your goals.

Housing Link

HousingLink is a nonprofit organization. whos mission is to connect communities and people to information that supports the resolution of their affordable housing issues.


MNDisability.gov - Housing

This website provides a single entry point to over 100 Minnesota state agency programs, products, and services that are devoted to the range of disability issues.


The Minnesota Association of Centers for Independent Living

a non-profit organization whose purpose is to advocate for the independent living needs of people with disabilities who are citizens of the State of Minnesota, to develop new resources, identify and provide access to existing resources which provide the services needed by persons with disabilities so that they may live independently in the situation and community of their choice.

This web site is dedicated to providing information about independent living services provided by Minnesota's eight Centers for Independent Living (CILs), and links to disability related information around the world.

What Are The Housing Options?

Remember, it will take time, energy, and creativity to come up with a plan that fits your son’s or daughter’s individual needs. Housing options generally fall into the following categories:

  • Family home, friend’s or relative’s home
  • Individualized Housing Options (IHO): Home ownership, apartment rental, condominium and townhome rental or ownership
  • Cooperative housing
  • Co-housing
  • Community Residential Settings
  • Family Adult Foster Care Settings
  • Intermediate Care Facilities
    • Intermediate Care Facility for Persons with
      Developmental Disabilities (ICF/DD)
    • Nursing homes

Family, friend, or relative's home (click to expand)

A person with a disability may choose to live at home with his or her family for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is family tradition for youth to live at home until they have a family of their own. Sometimes family members need one another for financial support. Some young adults choose to live at home to save money. Still others live with their families because it is the place where they can find the support they need to manage their lives. Young adults should learn to be as responsible and independent as possible, even if they live at home. All members of the family should contribute to the household. Families may need to talk about household rules and each member’s responsibilities. It is fair to expect a young person who is working and receiving an SSI (Supplemental Security Income) check to share in the cost of food and household expenses. SSI rules can be complicated. For instance, people who live at home with their family will have their SSI check reduced by approximately one-third. However, their check will not be reduced if they notify the Social Security Administration that they are paying a fair amount for room and board.

INDIVIDUALIZED HOUSING OPTIONS (IHO):
HOME, APARTMENT, CONDOMINIUM RENTAL OR OWNERSHIP(click to expand)

Greater opportunities now exist for people with disabilities to rent or own apartments, condos, townhomes, or homes and receive the services and supports they need in the location of their choice. As discussed previously, Olmstead supports the concept that services and supports should be provided to the person with the disability in the most integrated setting possible. This has allowed people with disabilities to create Individualized Housing Options (IHO). Some programs don’t have to be licensed since the person controls the home by having a lease or owning it. There is also rent assistance that may help some people called MSA Housing Assistance.  This adds to the flexibility and choices people may have.

For example, the person with the disability and/or their parents or guardians may rent or purchase an apartment, condo, townhome, or home. They can then hire their own staff through various funding sources: Home and Community-Based Waivers, Homecare, Consumer Directed Services, Personal Care Attendants, paid or unpaid natural supports, or contract with a housing provider for services. The mixing and matching of services within service menus allows people with disabilities the ultimate freedom to hire or fire their staff or providers if they so choose.

New individualized housing options may include:

  • Monitoring (“Smart Home”) technology to augment staff, which allows for increased privacy and monitors the safety of a person with a disability
  • “Scattered” apartment or condo within a market property: housing that includes people with and without disabilities in an apartment or condo complex, where a provider has separate apartments or condos for on-site service staff as specified by a person’s Coordinated Service and Support Plan (CSSP).
  • Consumer or parent-owned housing where live-in staff or shift staff is hired by the person with a disability and/or their parent or guardian. Unique arrangements may be used to augment staffing using natural supports, which may involve parents, siblings, community members, or volunteers. The MSA Housing Assistance Supplement for room and board may be accessed for individuals relocating to the community from an institution or receiving State Plan Services, Home and Community-Based Waivers (HCBS) or Self-Directed Supports.

Renting and owning have advantages and disadvantages. For some people, renting is a better choice. Some renters say they like to have the flexibility to be mobile and to be able to make important lifestyle changes more easily, such as taking a new job or being in a relationship. Others who rent apartments or townhomes like the fact that they are not fully responsible for maintenance. In addition, renters can save money on maintenance and general upkeep, including grounds, that are a landlord’s responsibility.

Subsidized rental housing is available to people with disabilities who may have low incomes. The option limits the amount one would pay for housing (including utilities) to 30 percent of income. For more information see, “What are the Funding Sources?” section.

Home ownership has several advantages over renting. First, being a home owner is a valued role in our society and one that can closely connect a person to his or her community. Having a home of one’s own can provide a sense of permanency for people with disabilities, something that might have been missing if their living situation was previously under the control of others. In addition, people who own their homes often have more living space and more freedom to change their property as they like. Housing payments are relatively stable. Owning a home also means that people are more likely to become involved in their community, because they are likely to live there long term.

However, there can be significant costs in securing a home loan and down payment. A person who owns a home is responsible for its maintenance and repairs. When looking for a home, a person with a disability must think about whether he or she wants to live in a city, a suburb, or in a rural area. He or she will have to determine if physical modifications are needed and available; whether it is better to live alone or with others; and if public transportation is needed that is available and nearby. The answers to these questions will help determine where that person lives.

People with disabilities should also be aware of community resources that may be helpful in finding a place to live. For example, many cities offer first time home-buyer money, and many agencies offer “Home Stretch” training. Financial assistance may be available from community land trusts such as “City of Lakes” in the Twin Cities Metro area. Check your city’s website for more information on land trusts and home ownership resources.

Additional resources for home ownership include:

Various apartment “search engines” allow users to look for buildings that have accessible units, such as:

COOPERATIVE HOUSING (click to expand)

Individuals interested in home ownership, not only for personal and economic benefits but also for the social benefits a community can offer, may organize to form a kind of corporation called a “cooperative” or “co-op.” Members don’t own their individual units; rather they own one share in the cooperative and have one vote at general membership meetings. Members sell their share back when they move out. After co-op members elect a board of directors, the board may hire a property manager or contract for needed services. The board may also decide that members can manage the services on a volunteer basis. The co-op is eligible for financial assistance or low-cost loans from the government. Shared leadership and responsibilities, including rules and regulations of the co-op, are important factors to consider before you choose to participate in a housing co-op. Your son or daughter may want to also look at the activities and interests of the other members for compatibility.

Cooperatives:

CO-HOUSING (click to expand)

Co-housing is a relatively new movement in the United States; it has been functioning successfully in Europe, however, for more than 20 years. The philosophy is based on traditional community living where neighbors and residents can share some of the day-to-day responsibilities of family living. Co-housing creates cross-generational communities that invite a variety of families and single people to participate in the planning, design, and ongoing management of the development. A co-housing community typically includes individual units clustered around a common house that may contain a dining room, kitchen, workshop, laundry, or  library. Some communities may decide to share responsibilities, such as childcare, or they may plan their dinners together on certain days of the week. Because it is a new concept in the United States, financing can be a problem as co-housing does not receive government support.

Community Residential Settings (click to expand)

Community Residential Settings, formally known as Corporate Foster Care settings, that are licensed and registered with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide specialized services to people with disabilities through varying levels of care. Community Residential Settings provide sleeping accommodations and services for one to four adults - or five adults if the residents are elderly. The home is not the primary residence of the foster care license holder, nor does the license holder need to be the primary caregiver. They provide 24-hour continuous care plus support, structure, nurturance, and control toward achieving individualized goals within a family home environment. Unlike group homes and ICF/DD, a community residential setting is less formal and is licensed under the Department of Human Services Individuals in foster homes may be eligible for Supported Living Services (SLS) paid for by the county

A provider needs to be licensed (under Minnesota Statutes and Rules) in order to receive state and federal funding. In addition, the provider must adhere to standards adopted to protect the health, safety, rights, and well-being of vulnerable adults. For example, a community residential setting has license requirements unique to that individual program, and routine site visits required. Another example is Rule 36, establishing standards for mental health programs providing residential treatment and rehabilitation services to adults with mental illness on a 24-hour per-day basis.

According to DHS, Community Residential Settings provide "supportive services" and "health-related services." Supportive services mean the provision of up to 24-hour supervision and oversight. When a person is living in a Community Residential Setting, Coordinated Service and Support Plan (CSSP) must indicate what services the provider will furnish. Coordinated Service and Support Plans are developed by the person with a disability and their legal representative, county case manager and other members of the support team. Service direction should be provided by the person with a disability, with assistance from the support staff, with oversight from the case manager and person’s guardian/legal representative.

Supportive services include:

  • Transportation, when provided by a the provider of support services
  • Socialization, if socialization is part of the plan of care that has specific goals and outcomes established
  • Assistance in setting up a person's meetings and appointments, and assistance in arranging medical and social services
  • Assistance with personal laundry, such as carrying the person's laundry to the laundry room

Health-related services are limited to minimal assistance with:

  • Dressing, grooming, and bathing
  • Providing reminders to residents to take medications that are self-administered, or providing storage for medications if requested

For more information on questions to ask see "Questions to Ask Residential Providers" from rtc.umn.edu

Residential Openings List is an excellent resource that is supported by The Association for Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM) and the Metro Crisis Coordination Program (MCCP) lets families search for openings in current residential settings.

For example, one can do an Internet search for current residential openings in Minnesota by entering gender, disability type, and affect (mild to severe), special medical attention, housing option, and financial considerations. You can also call (612) 869-6811 for assistance.

Family Foster Care Settings (click to expand)

Family Foster Care Settings provide sleeping accommodations and services for one to four adults. The home is the primary residence of the foster care license holder who is also the primary caregiver. 24-hour continuous care as well as support, structure, nurturance, and control toward achieving individualized goals within a family home environment. In some instances, your child may rent or own their own home and may rent out a portion of the home to the foster care provider.

A provider needs to be licensed (under Minnesota Statutes and Rules) in order to receive state and federal funding. In addition, the provider must adhere to standards adopted to protect the health, safety, rights, and well-being of vulnerable adults. For example, a community residential setting has license requirements unique to that individual program, and routine site visits required. Another example is Rule 36, establishing standards for mental health programs providing residential treatment and rehabilitation services to adults with mental illness on a 24-hour per-day basis.

According to DHS, Community Residential Settings provide "supportive services" and "health-related services." Supportive services mean the provision of up to 24-hour supervision and oversight. When a person is living in a Community Residential Setting, Coordinated Service and Support Plan (CSSP) must indicate what services the provider will furnish. Coordinated Service and Support Plans are developed by the person with a disability and their legal representative, county case manager and other members of the support team. Service direction should be provided by the person with a disability, with assistance from the support staff, with oversight from the case manager and person’s guardian/legal representative.

Supportive services include:

  • Transportation, when provided by a the provider of support services
  • Socialization, if socialization is part of the plan of care that has specific goals and outcomes established
  • Assistance in setting up a person's meetings and appointments, and assistance in arranging medical and social services
  • Assistance with personal laundry, such as carrying the person's laundry to the laundry room

Health-related services are limited to minimal assistance with:

  • Dressing, grooming, and bathing
  • Providing reminders to residents to take medications that are self-administered, or providing storage for medications if requested

Institutions (click to expand)

An Intermediate Care Facility for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (ICF/DD) is a residential facility licensed to provide services to people who have developmental disabilities or a related condition that requires a 24-hour plan of care to assure their health, safety, and well-being. Residents are usually unable to apply learned skills without ongoing supervision and cannot take care of their personal needs by themselves. According to federal law, individuals with developmental disabilities “must have substantial limitations in their present level of functioning, manifested as significantly below average intellectual functioning and demonstrated deficits in adaptive behavior that appear before their 22nd birthday.” ICF/DD’s can serve from four to 64 people. Eligibility for ICF/DD services is determined through a screening process through the county.

An ICF/DD must:

  • Provide a continuous active treatment program that is based on the needs, preferences, and goals of the person
  • Be consistent with the principles of the least restrictive environment and self-determination
  • Include opportunities to participate in the community
  • Include functional skill development and opportunities for the development of decision-making skills

NURSING HOMES

Nursing homes are community-based settings that provide a 24-hour plan of care for individuals who need a nursing level of care. Nursing homes should be considered transitional facilities for adults and not permanent residences. By federal law, a residence of over 16 beds is considered an institution. Since laws have been passed to de-institutionalize settings, individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness should not be in a nursing home with individuals over the age of 65. State and federal money pay for lodging expenses if counties place individuals in smaller settings like group homes of four or fewer.

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