There are a variety of settings in which people with intellectual impairments and related developmental disabilities may live and receive needed supports and services. For people who currently receive services through Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority’s (CMHA) service providers (e.g., MORC, Inc. and CLS-Oakland, Inc.), selecting a place to live should be supported through the “Person-Centered Planning” (PCP) process, and should include both short-term and long-term housing goals.

Through this process, persons with intellectual impairments can explore and pursue various options depending upon their desires, needs and circumstances. Any individual, professional or services provider may request assistance in planning for housing needs directly from the CMHA-sponsored, Troy-based Community Housing Network, Inc. (CHN) at 248-928-0111. CHN website has placed its outstanding Housing Resource Manual on-line at: www.communityhousingnetwork.org.

Although housing and support arrangements are individualized, there are some general categories. These categories vary based upon the level of individual control and independence:

Licensed Settings – Housing that provides 24-hour, 7-day-a-week supports and supervision generally requires an Adult Foster Care license issued by the State of Michigan. These settings include group homes and Adult Foster Care Family Homes, both of which often referred to as “AFC” homes. Group homes typically provide housing and support services for five or six persons living in the same home, although some are larger. Direct services in these homes are usually provided by a service provider under an agreement with one of CMHA’s service providers or the person with a disability and their family. Most often, group homes employ shift staffing to provide direct care. Adult Foster Care Family Homes can vary in size, but primary care givers usually reside in the home along with the individuals.

Independent Living – People can live in a home of their own in a variety of settings or in their home and receive needed supports and services in their own homes. Most often this involves either owning or renting a place to live in the individual’s own name. Housing can vary from apartments to condos or single family homes. Sometimes individuals share a home or apartment with other persons to share costs. These settings are commonly referred to as “S.I.P.’s,” which stands for Supported Independence Program settings. People who are living independently can still receive the level of supports and services they need. Many choose to receive services through the Self-Determination Initiative (SDI), which encourages individuals to design and direct their own supports.

Affordable Rental Housing – Much of the rental housing in communities across Oakland County is not affordable to people with disabilities that rely primarily on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Community Housing Network (CHN) maintains an updated list of subsidized housing and information about accessing available rental subsidies. A number of agencies, including CHN, the Oakland CMHA, its core service providers, and advocacy groups, are currently working to address the critical shortage of affordable rental housing and subsidies.

Home Ownership – Some people have established the goal of home ownership. This is usually a long-term commitment and should be carefully considered. You can contact the CHN for information about programs that can assist people with disabilities in owning their own home. There are a number of government and private agencies to help persons with disabilities and their families identify and access these resources. Persons receiving mental health services through the Oakland CMHA’s service providers should contact their Support Coordinator or CHN directly for information and referral. Those not receiving services through the Oakland CMHA’s service provider network should contact the CHN directly.

Section 8 (Housing Choice Vouchers) – The federally funded Section 8 program, now known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) is a resource to help people with low income find affordable rental housing. This program also permits some vouchers to be used to help with home ownership. There are two types of vouchers: project-based and tenant-based. Project-based assistance is available only in certain apartment buildings or complexes, and is not portable if the renter wants to move. Tenant-based vouchers follow the person (with some restrictions). While some other programs are designed as short-term assistance, HCV’s can provide lifetime housing assistance as long as the person remains eligible. Voucher payments are made directly to landlords, and make up the difference between the tenant’s ability to pay and the actual rent for the housing unit, within certain specified limits. There are many regulations that govern this program and it should be noted that there are not enough HCV’s for everyone who is eligible; waiting lists are usually long and are not frequently open.

For more information on the Section 8 program you may contact Community Housing Network, Inc. at 248-928-0111, or any of the seven Public Housing Authorities (“Housing Commissions”) across Oakland County:

Ferndale
248-547-9500

Pontiac
248-338-4551

Madison Heights
248-583-0843

Royal Oak Township
248-398-8101

Royal Oak
248-546-8599

Southfield
248-796-4170

Plymouth
(for South Lyon area)
734-455-3670

The Arc of Oakland County maintains a contractual agreement with The Arc Michigan (underwritten by the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority) for the Dignified Lifestyles/Community Connections Program which monitors 10 MORC group homes and one adult respite home. Ten volunteers have received training and visit one residential setting per month. During each visit, volunteers observe the following: true community participation, respect, choice-making, functional skills, learning, and real relationships. Information from 25 local chapters of The Arc is accumulated within a computer data base at The Arc Michigan and shared with various departments within the State, Oakland County and legislators.