Federal law prohibits the unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities.
The Olmstead Decision
Individuals with disabilities have historically faced discrimination that limited their opportunity to live independently in the community and required them to live in institutions and other segregated settings. In 1999, the United States Supreme Court issued the landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), affirming that the unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities is a form of discrimination prohibited by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Following the Olmstead decision, there have been increased efforts across the country to assist individuals who are institutionalized or housed in other segregated settings to move to integrated, community-based settings. In addition, states are “rebalancing” health care delivery systems by shifting away from an overreliance on providing long-term services and supports to individuals with disabilities in institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other restrictive, segregated settings and moving towards a greater reliance on home- and community-based services. For many states, these efforts to comply with Olmstead and rebalance the way long-term services and supports are provided by moving individuals out of institutions and into the community are confounded by a lack of integrated housing options for individuals with disabilities. As a result, there is a great need for affordable, integrated housing opportunities where individuals with disabilities are able to live and interact with individuals without disabilities, while receiving the health care and long-term services and supports they need.
Integrated, Community-Based Settings
Individuals with disabilities, like individuals without disabilities, should have choice and self-determination in housing and in the health care and related support services they receive. For this reason, HUD is committed to offering individuals with disabilities housing options that enable them to make meaningful choices about housing, health care, and long-term services and supports so they can participate fully in community life. As more states facilitate the transition of individuals with disabilities from institutional or other segregated settings into their communities, the need for meaningful choice among housing options is critical. For communities that have historically relied heavily on institutional settings and housing built exclusively or primarily for individuals with disabilities, the need for additional integrated housing options scattered throughout the community becomes more acute.
Examples of integrated settings include scattered-site apartments providing permanent supportive housing, tenant-based rental assistance that enables individuals with disabilities to lease housing in integrated developments, and apartments for individuals with various disabilities scattered throughout public and multifamily housing developments.
By contrast, segregated settings are occupied exclusively or primarily by individuals with disabilities. Segregated settings sometimes have qualities of an institutional nature, including, but not limited to, regimentation in daily activities, lack of privacy or autonomy, policies limiting visitors, limits on individuals’ ability to engage freely in community activities, and manage their own activities of daily living, or daytime activities primarily with other individuals with disabilities.
HUD’s Role in Furthering Integration for Persons with Disabilities
HUD programs serve as an important resource for affordable housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are transitioning out of, or at serious risk of entering, institutions and other segregated settings. HUD funds the operation, management, development, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing. HUD’s portfolio includes tenant-based housing vouchers, apartment buildings that serve a wide variety of individuals and families, and numerous other programs that provide permanent and transitional housing with or without supportive services to individuals with and without disabilities.
HUD’s Section 504 regulations also contain an integration mandate. Both HUD and recipients of federal financial assistance from HUD have an obligation to administer their programs and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities. While different HUD programs have various program and
eligibility requirements, HUD and all recipients of federal financial assistance from HUD must meet this integration mandate.
HUD is committed to providing individuals with disabilities a meaningful choice in housing and the delivery of long-term health care and support services. To that end, HUD is exploring how it can fund additional integrated housing units scattered throughout communities. HUD also continues to fund single site supportive housing that is statutorily permitted to house and provide voluntary supportive services to individuals with disabilities in some or all of the units. In addition, HUD is exploring how existing HUD-assisted housing can provide individuals with disabilities increased opportunities to exercise autonomy, independence, and self-determination in living arrangements that have the comforts and qualities of home.
Statement of HUD on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goals of Olmstead