How to Get Started

Making a home that is right for the person and that is sustainable can be a complex process. New York Alliance has trained 240 Housing Navigators, located throughout the State who will work with people with I/DD, their families, and the agencies that provide support to develop a workable plan and to put it into operation. The Housing Navigator will act as a guide through the process, including these major elements;

  • Person Centered perspective. Everything begins and continues with a deep understanding of the person’s needs and aspirations, and their involvement in every stage of thinking about and planning for their own future.

  • Certified housing such as Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) or Family Care are operated by the State or by nonprofit agencies. Certification requires significant regulatory oversight in exchange for enhanced funding. Certified settings are typically more congregate with limited flexibility. To apply for a Certified Residential Opportunity contact the OPWDD regional office. 

  • Non certified housing is the fastest growing area of housing for people with I/DD as it provides more flexibility, is less encumbered by regulation and costs less than certified housing. Housing can be combined with services which can be adapted to individual needs, or services can be provided separately. The home can be in a house or an apartment, it can be owned by an individual or a landlord, a nonprofit or a for profit corporation or by the people who live in the home themselves.

What Information Do I Need to Apply for Housing?

Applying for and Moving into Affordable Housing?

  • Living arrangements (self or roommate).Economics dictate that people who need housing and staff support and who have low to moderate incomes will need to combine their budgets with other people.  Planning tools that help to understand the issues, such as the YAI’s Road Map to Housing or the Pacer Center’s Individualized Housing Options Resource guide, and a guide to living together such as a Social Contract are helpful.

  • Desired location.  Living in a large town or city has the benefit of choice in services, transportation links, availability of staff, and variety of social opportunities, but cities can be crowded, noisy and expensive. Suburban areas may have more space and cost less but have less choice in providers and staffing, while rural areas can have lower housing costs but be isolated and lack resources. All of the choices have to be balanced.

  • Community Needs Location considerations include proximity to employment, family and friends, recreation, medical facilities, or places of worship.

  • Rent or buy. Homeownership is a major step, it brings more autonomy, a sense of permanence and community involvement and perhaps a capital gain, but it brings responsibility and costs of upkeep and is not for everyone. Renting may be more expensive in the long term but is more flexible and convenient with less to worry about

  • Paying for housing. In addition to the resources an individual has from their public benefits and any personal resources there are direct housing subsidies available such as Tenant Based Rental Assistance, (“Section 8” ),  and OPWDD’s Individualized Supports and Services (“ISS”) housing support funds. There are products to help first time home buyers save for a down payment and low cost long term mortgage products, including OPWDD’s “Home of Your Own” mortgage product. Similar low interest, low down-payment loans are available through State Of NY Mortgage  Agency  (SONYMA)

  • USDA Rural Development. For those in rural locations, USDA Rural Development offers a variety of housing assistance programs, including loans and grants for single family home ownership or repair. To learn more, visit For information specific to New York State, including local offices and contacts in your area, visit

Additional Helpful Resources

This series of tools were created by the Monroe Housing Collaborative in partnership with the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation (formerly NYSACRA) to assist with your planning process.

I Want to Move Out On My Own  //  Should I Share or Live Alone  //  Housing Questionnaire