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key with house-shaped key chainThe Massachusetts Office on Disability serves as a resource for technical assistance. We often get calls about housing and wanted to take this opportunity to discuss frequently asked questions:

Can MOD help me find housing?

MOD will be able to provide you with general information on types of housing available and how to apply. The resources we provide are publicly available, and we expect you will be using them as independently as possible. MOD staff will not conduct a housing search or complete applications for you.

Housing Consumer Education Centers offer answers to a wide range of questions about all types of housing problems. Tenants, landlords, prospective buyers, and homeowners can access information designed to maximize housing stability, strengthen investments, and minimize disputes.  Find your regional MCEC here.

This book by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) provides information about searching for rental housing in Massachusetts for people who have one or more disabilities. Most of the information is also helpful to people who have low-income.

I am a person with a disability and have a low income, what are my options for housing?

There are both state and federal programs that subsidize housing for people who have low income.  In most cases, recipients of housing subsidies pay 30% of their gross income towards rent and the government pays the remainder.  The Department of Housing and Community Development’s publication “How to Obtain Housing in Massachusetts” explains subsidized housing in more detail.

Where do I apply for subsidized housing?

Housing subsidies can be project based or tenant based.

A project based subsidy is one that is tied to an apartment or a whole housing development.  A recipient moves in and has subsidized rent as long as they live there.  Local housing authorities and privately managed subsidized developments are examples of project based subsidies.  To apply for a project based subsidy you would submit an application to each local housing authority and/or privately managed development in which you are interested.  You may search privately managed Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized apartments here.

A tenant based subsidy or a “housing voucher” allows the recipient to have subsidized rent in the private market.  The subsidy/voucher belongs to the recipient which means that when they end a lease and move they can take the subsidy with them.   There are two large centralized lists for the federal Section 8 voucher which can be found here.

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Pre-Application

A state issued housing voucher, Alternative Housing Voucher Program, is available to people with disabilities who are eligible for elderly/disabled housing but are not elderly.

How can I find housing that works for my disability?

When searching for housing you should be aware of how any physical or health conditions may impact you in using particular features in your home, with particular focus on the entrance and the bathroom.

The Accessible Housing Registry is a database that allows users to search for accessible features in market rate and subsidized housing including wheelchair accessible units, ground floor/elevator units, and units with roll-in showers.

I am disabled and need housing right away, can you help? 

MOD provides general information on the topic of subsidized housing, housing search, and emergency shelters.  This information is not specific to people with disabilities as these program operate similarly for all eligible populations. MOD can provide standard information on housing resources but also recommend that individuals seeking affordable housing connect with agencies/organizations that specialize in housing such as the housing consumer education centers as they may have information on other alternative options such as single room occupancies or affordable market rate units.

What if I need a change made to a physical aspect of my residence, or a change to a rule or policy because of my disability? 

Virtually all housing providers have an obligation to make reasonable modifications and reasonable accommodations to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy a dwelling.

A “reasonable modification” refers to a structural change, such as installation of a ramp or grab bars.

A “reasonable accommodation” refers to a change to a rule or policy such as making an exception to a “no pets” policy to allow an assistance animal in a dwelling or assigning a parking space close to the entrance to a resident with a mobility disability when parking is typically first-come first-serve.

Whether a modification or accommodation is considered “reasonable” will vary on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the particulars of the situation.  To discuss your questions about reasonable modifications and or accommodations, you may contact MOD by phone 617-727-7440 and follow the voice prompts or by using our online contact form.

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Written By:


Assistant Director for Client Services

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