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Financial Programs for Housing Individuals with Developmental Disabilites


Financial Programs  for Housing Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

People with developmental or other disabilities often have very low incomes.  They may require housing that is located with access to public transportation, as well as in close proximity to shopping, medical facilities or employment.  Some require accessibility modifications or have a live in caregiver.  The one thing that is essential is housing that is affordable to obtain, maintain and is sustainable over time.  Beyond this, housing that is inclusionary to the community, that is integrated into the neighborhood, is highly desirable. 

Housing providers who specialize in developing or operating affordable housing are familiar with the many affordable housing programs dedicated to lowering the monthly cost of renting or owning a home. 

 Housing providers who specialize in developing or operating housing that is dedicated to residents with development or other disabilities, must address the very low incomes of their residents as well as have experience in providing supportive housing.

Some housing providers have obtained financing that requires them to set aside a certain number of units for residents with a disability.   

ROOF can provide expertise in navigating the numerous programs that can be funded by federal, state, local or private sources.  A good description of these programs can be found in the Guide to Affordable Housing Funding Sources.  Another good resource is the Guide to Housing in Florida DDC.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation Special Needs Housing Website 

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is Florida’s Housing Finance Agency.  As such, major federal housing programs as well as state funded programs are administered by FHFC.  A Special Needs Housing Website is available that provides an opportunity to sign up for announcements.  To view the website and subscribe to notifications, click here. 

Below is a description of some of the main housing assistance programs for Renting or Owning. The main housing finance programs include the following.  

HOME.  The HOME program provides federal funding to participating communities for rental and ownership, rental assistance, and rehabilitation.  Each community develops their own plan for these funds.  

CDBG.  The Community Development Block Grant program is federal funds administered locally.  These funds may be available for accessibility modifications or overall housing rehabilitation. 

To locate the HOME and CDBG grantee in your community, visit the HUD Exchange Website and search by state and locality or by program. 

SHIP.  The State Housing Initiatives Partnership is a Florida program that is available in all counties and most cities.  Each community decides how they will use their SHIP dollars, although there are some statewide requirements that ensure people with developmental disabilities have access to the funds.  SHIP funding is mostly for homeownership and can be used for down payment and closing costs, mortgage principal reduction, and rehabilitation.  To locate your local SHIP administrator, click here, or download the guide.

LIHTC. Low Income Housing Tax Credits provide equity financing to developers of large rental housing projects.  This is an advanced program for experienced developers- however, there are requirements to include housing units for very low income residents or persons with disabilities.  In Florida, the LIHTC program is administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.  For more information, click here


Rental Assistance to the Tenant

A person whose sole income is SSI will most likely not be able to afford even the most basic unit in their community.  They will need assistance.  The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is the solution but due to ongoing budget cuts and extremely high demand, there are long waiting lists.  

  • Persons with a disability may petition the offering agency to be placed closer to the top of the waiting list.  To learn about Housing Choice Vouchers, contact your local housing authority.  
  • In some communities there are other forms of rental assistance that may be available, such as HOME funded Tenant Based Rental Assistance.  It is critical that the support coordinator be fully aware of all of the programs available in the community.  

How do vouchers work?

Tenant based housing vouchers (Housing Choice Voucher, also known as Section 8) provide monthly rental payments directly to the landlord.  The tenant is responsible for paying up to 30% of their income for rent and the difference is made up by the voucher.  The tenant will still be responsible for utilities. 

Other types of rental assistance can pay for:

  • Initial deposits
  • Utility connections

Rental Units that are Affordable 

Developers may receive assistance in constructing or rehabilitating units that must be made affordable to low income residents.  While the rents of most of these subsidized units may still be out of reach for people with very low income, many set aside units that will be more affordable.  Florida’s counties and cities have access to federal and state programs that help bridge the gap in providing affordable housing.  

Housing providers should contact their local SHIP administrator to find out what programs are available locally.  The Local Housing Assistance Plan must be updated every three years which provides a chance for advocates to request programs that target people with disabilities.   ROOF can assist in identifying your local SHIP administrator and advocating for housing programs that will be available to people with developmental disabilities.  To find your local SHIP administrator, click here.

ROOF can work with developers to ensure they have the information needed to market these units to prospective tenants who would qualify for these units.  The program is offered on an annual basis and is a competitive process.  For more information on the LIHTC program, visit the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.


Many people with disabilities desire to own their own home.  While low income can be an obstacle, there are programs that can assist to bridge the gap between income and the mortgage amount.  Obtaining credit scores sufficient to qualify for a mortgage is a challenge that must be met but is possible with high quality homeownership counseling and financial guidance.

In Florida, the SHIP program offers down payment and purchase assistance that has given many people with disabilities the dream of home ownership.  All counties and most cities have access to this statewide funding source.  Another program that may be available is HOME.   

However, each locality has their own specific plan and there may not be deep enough subsidies to help a person with extremely low income qualify for purchasing a home.  Advocacy at the local level along with quality financial guidance can make the dream possible.  

The First Time Homebuyer Program offered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation offers low and moderate income families and individuals fixed, low interest rate mortgage loans. The First Time Homebuyer Wizard is a good tool to identify lenders participating in the program.