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People with mental disabilities can successfully live in their own homes like everyone else. Yet, historically, service systems have steered people with mental disabilities to group homes, board and care homes, nursing homes, and other congregate settings. Those who seek housing on their own are often thwarted by discrimination and low income.
To help people with mental disabilities live in their own homes, we advocate for affordable housing, fight housing discrimination, and work to expand supportive housing, which links people who have severe disabilities with the assistance they need to live independently.
To improve access to affordable housing, we are working with other advocates to secure a vast increase in the number of rental vouchers through the federal government that are available to people with mental disabilities. We are also advocating for financing to develop affordable housing units, including through a National Housing Trust. We work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, and we help lawyers around the country who represent victims of discrimination, including evictions based on fear and prejudice concerning mental disability.
Supportive housing has allowed thousands of people with serious mental illnesses to live independently, integrated into their communities. For this reason, the Bazelon Center vigorously promotes this model as a means of achieving the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Supportive housing gives people their own apartment or home while making available to them a wide variety of flexible, individually-tailored services and supports. Services may include mental health and substance abuse treatment, peer support, crisis intervention, case management and independent living services, such as help in learning how to maintain a home. Supportive housing participants have the same rights and responsibilities as any other tenant. People who live in supportive housing are integrated within their communities; they are not consolidated in particular buildings or developments.
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