Housing Insecurity Makes an Impact
By ABLE NH Staff
In 1991, New Hampshire was the first state in the nation to close its inhumane institution for people with disabilities promising a better quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. In recent years, failure to create integrated, universally designed, affordable housing has left families across the disability community lying awake at night wondering, “what will happen to my loved one when I die?
ABLE NH has acted by forming a housing task force. Its informal housing survey of 365 people yielded startling statistics from respondents:
- Approximately 70% of people with disabilities and family caretakers reported a need for access to appropriately supportive, accessible, affordable housing.
- Approximately 70% of people with disabilities and family caretakers stated that they are (or their loved one is) presently at risk of homelessness.
“I am so proud of the young man Oliver has become and want more than anything for him to continue to flourish, be happy, and set goals for himself. But I am so concerned that the systems at play – the lack of adequate housing and support– may prevent the life he and I both hope to achieve and deserve.”
—Susan Zimmermann, Oliver’s mother
“I live in Dover, New Hampshire with my mother. I work 30 hours a week and volunteer for several non-profit organizations. I’m a citizen who contributes to my community and I live an ordinary life in most ways. Except one: I’m a thirty-year old employed woman with different abilities who is, basically, expected to live with my mother, forever, because there is no affordable housing for me in my local community. My mom won’t always be around to house me. I don’t need much support but I do need a little support. The truth is everyone needs a little support. Most Americans have debt which means most people could use a little support managing their finances, right?”
“In the North Country, the housing shortage is so severe. We all know that the area agencies can’t find housing, families can’t find housing, no one can find housing. When there is an availability, we also know that landlords are going to choose the person who doesn’t look like they need any supports.”
“I am on the waitlist for Section 8 housing and on my second ‘renewal.’ Twenty years ago, my parent’s family bought a duplex when I became an adult. However, staff shortages and a lack of money for minor modifications to make my home safe and accessible is delaying me from living on my own. It’s unfair. The rules are designed to make it harder for me and for families.”
“I think it’s important for New Hampshire to build affordable housing for people like me who just need a little support to live independently. Adults with disabilities like me should not have to live with their parents. Living on my own is important to me and it’s a matter of dignity. People with disabilities are a protected class of American citizens. Tell me, which other protected class of citizens are expected to live their whole lives with their parents?”
— Forrest Beaudoin-Friede
“It would be terrific to live on my own. Problem is there isn’t affordable housing close enough to where I work full-time. New Hampshire must prioritize building housing for people with disabilities.”
We know New Hampshire has a housing crisis. Within this housing crisis, the disability community has a heightened risk of housing insecurity and homelessness. New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority has already changed their Qualified Allocation Plan based on ABLE’s work, but there’s so much more to do. Get involved in housing advocacy.
To connect: LisaB@AbleNH.org or 603-878-0459.