Many individuals with a disability live on a small, fixed income, limiting their ability to pay for housing. Individuals with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities need affordable, conveniently located housing that has been (or can be) specially adapted to address accessibility issues and include on- or offsite support services, including inpatient/outpatient day-treatment programs.
Special needs are those associated with specific demographic or occupational groups that call for specific program responses, such as preservation of single-room occupancy hotels or the development of units with larger bedroom counts. The statute specifically requires analysis of the special housing needs of people who are elderly or disabled (including developmental disabilities), female-headed households, large families, farmworkers, and people experiencing homelessness. These special-needs groups often spend a disproportionate amount of their income to secure safe and decent housing and are sometimes subject to discrimination based on their specific needs or circumstances.
In addition to the groups listed above, the analysis of special needs should also include any other group the locality deems appropriate such as student populations, Native American tribes, people with HIV/AIDS, etc.
Government Code Section 65583(a)(7)) requires “An analysis of any special housing needs, such as those of the elderly, persons with disabilities, including a developmental disability, as defined in Section 4512 of the Welfare and Institutions Code; large families, farmworkers, families with female heads of households, and families and persons in need of emergency shelter…”
A thorough analysis will assist a locality in identifying groups that have the most-serious housing needs in order to develop and prioritize responsive programs. The analysis of each special-needs group should include the following:
- A quantification of the total number of persons and households in the special housing needs group, including tenure (rental or ownership), where possible.
- A quantification and qualitative description of the need (including a description of the potential housing problems faced by the special needs groups), a description of any existing resources or programs, and an assessment of unmet needs.
- Identification of potential program or policy options and resources to address the need.
In addition to the requisite analysis above, a thorough analysis of the special housing needs for persons with disabilities should include:
- A discussion of resources, including existing housing and services for people with disabilities. Contact local, service providers such as the local Center for Independent Living, county health/mental-health departments, health-related nonprofits (e.g. United Cerebral Palsy, Crippled Children’s Society, Heart Fund, Lung Association, Diabetes Association, Cancer Society, etc.) or school districts that maintain the number of students enrolled in special education programs, students requiring special accommodations and/or transportation, and students participating in home schooling.
- Identification of housing types (e.g. residential care facilities) that can accommodate people with disabilities and zoning and capacity available to facilitate these housing types.
- Housing programs or strategies to address identified needs.