Thank you for visiting the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living’s website regarding housing options. Housing Referrals are our most common type of request – they represent one-third of our total call volume.
Finding affordable, accessible housing is crucial to all people. Housing is the base of operations from which every other aspect of a person’s life flows. However, costs put housing out of reach for many individuals with a disability. A Harris Poll conducted in 2000 indicated that 15% of individuals with disabilities had incomes of $15,000 or less per year. This poll was taken when our economy was doing a lot better than it is now.
Financial planning specialists recommend that individuals not spend more than a third of their total household income on housing. That would mean that for our fictitious home-seeker – an individual with a disability – who might be earning $15,000 per year – he or she should not exceed $5,000 per year in housing costs. That’s just $416 per month! Do you know of any market-rate apartment that rents for that right now?
Even in 2000, when the study was conducted, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment rental was $602 per month! (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000, retrieved March 14, 2010). Hopefully, some of the material here will help you with locating the perfect new home.
We hope the guidance below can help you with the housing issue you are experiencing. Click on a category below to be directed to the section that can help you.
Q & A
- If you have no income or are homeless
- If you have a small amount of income and are looking for low-cost, subsidized housing
- If you have a small amount of income and are looking for low-cost, UNsubsitized housing
If you are currently finding yourself without income, there are few choices you might have.
Street – Some folks choose to live on the streets or sleeping in their car. On the positive side, this choice offers autonomy, control of your schedule, and choice of location. However, this choice is unsafe, uncomfortable, and requires money for gas, and, ideally, insurance. I do not recommend this as a viable choice, IT IS NOT SAFE.
Camping – For people who have access to camping equipment, and have a very small amount of money, some choose to camp. On the positive side, this choice offers autonomy, control of your schedule, and choice of location. However, state regulations prohibit you from staying longer than a month at a time in any one location, you are at the mercy of the elements (rain, cold & wind), and there is the risk of theft. (Regulated campsites can be safer.) Camping is UNSAFE on unregulated sites.
Family / friends – If you are lucky enough to have good friends or relatives, I suggest to individuals that they make arrangements with family and friends while they wait for income or health issues to be resolved. However, to maintain this as a good situation, good communication and proactive work on your part during the process is VITAL. If you don’t know how long you will be without shelter, let your family or friends know. If you are homeless due to eviction or foreclosure, plan on at least a year of needing help, because, as the saying goes, “you can’t rebuild Rome in a day.” Have a plan for how to fix the situation, and let your temporary housing host know. For example, if you have four family members or friends who have agreed to help, ask each person if you can stay for three months. This gives everyone a time-line to work with, and folks tend to function much better knowing something is temporary.
Shelter – There are several resources in the Ann Arbor area that can help with temporary shelter for individuals who are homeless. For a list of shelters serving Washtenaw County, click here.
If you currently have a source of income, and you have a disability, there are a variety of sites that offer subsidized housing. The trick is to find a site when they are accepting applications! It is hard to anticipate when lists will open, and once a person gets his or her name on a list, there is typically a wait of two to five years. I suggest you apply everywhere you qualify. For a list of low-cost, subsidized housing sites in Washtenaw County, click here.
If you are looking for low-cost housing but do not qualify for subsidized housing, I have put together a list of places around the area to check out. These ideas could be helpful in finding a permanent place to stay or somewhere to stay while you’re waiting for another place. To see my list of suggestions, click here.
You can also check out our Holder’s List, or post something on our Seeker’s List. See below for more info.
At the Ann Arbor CIL, we keep a list of people who have a room in their apartment or house that they would like to rent. If you have a room to rent and would like to add it to this list, contact me via email Sue Probert.
At the Ann Arbor CIL, we keep a list for people who would like to find a person to share living expenses with. We suggest you meet with these people in neutral, public places. Please keep in mind that these are NOT recommendations – we have not checked or screened these folks in any way. Only you can determine if this is the right person for you to share housing with. As always, check references and interview these people! To post a notice on our Seeker’s List, contact Sue Probert via email.