Independent Living


Finding the right residential option for a loved one with autism can be extremely challenging. Each type of residential program is designed to provide a different level of support for the residents. Take time to fully research all available options and continue to narrow down your search until you find the best fit for your loved one. Also, remember that there are often long waiting lists (sometimes years) for residential services and placements so start planning early.

Several support services may be available to assist families in providing housing for individuals with autism and other disabilities. In most states, individuals who need residential support will need to be eligible for Medicaid- a program designed to pay for intensive services. Previously, Medicaid funding was limited to individuals who lived in certain types of facilities, but now, through Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver Services (HCBS) individuals are able to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings. These programs serve a variety of targeted populations groups, such as people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and/or mental illnesses.


Transitional Models: Residential programs that offer short term (usually one month to two years) residential experience with the end goal being to transition the individual back to their previous environment or a new residence upon completion of the program.

Supported Living: Offers services to individuals with disabilities who are able to live in a home or apartment. These services are minimal are based on the individual’s specific support needs and are provided by caregivers working under the direction of the individual.

Supervised Living: Offers more direct and intensive structured supports available 24 hours a day, if needed. The individual may live in a house or apartment, alone or with others. Functional life skills such as banking or shopping can be taught or supported by staff.

Group Home Living: Offers a traditional model for residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Generally, several unrelated individuals with a disability live together with onsite support staff present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instruction focuses on independent living skills and community activities. The house is owned and operated by a provider agency that also employs and supervises the staff.

Group Living/Ownership (Co-op): Offers services similar to group home living except that the house is owned by a group of families or individuals who have formed a cooperative agreement. Caregivers hired by the cooperative or an agency contracted by the cooperative provide support services.
Foster Home Living: Offers “family-style” living with support services available 24/7 by professional teaching parents, usually a married couple. There may or may not be others with a disability living in the home.
Farmstead Communities: Offers opportunities for residential placement and support services for a number of individuals within the context of a working farm.

Assisted Living/Intermediate Care Facilities: Provide assistance with personal care and activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating. Unlike nursing homes, complex medical care is not provided, although assistance with daily medication may be provided.

Developmental Centers: These are large residential facilities on a campus like setting where residents have intensive needs related to their developmental disabilities. Many developmental centers are looking to shift individuals to more community based settings and will only place a person in a developmental center on a temporary or emergency basis.


Once you determine the type of residential option and support services that will best meet the needs of your loved one, you will need to consider funding sources. Individuals with autism are often eligible to participate in local, state, and federal programs designed to assist with the cost of residential housing and support services.

An Independent Skills Living Assessment gathers information to identify if an individual is prepared with the appropriate life skills to live on their own. See more information below or contact the Disability Network Michigan for a Center for Independent Living office near you.

People looking for affordable housing, can contact Michigan State Housing Development Authority to search for low to moderate income housing in your area. Subsidized housing rent will be based off of the amount of income in your family.

Public Housing Relocation/Replacement
Section 8 is a federal program for assisting low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. For more information visit, Section 8 Housing Subsidy (HUD)

Department of Health and Human Services offers a “State Emergency Relief” program for housing relocation services, home repairs and home ownership if you qualify for services. Check to see if you qualify Michigan Department of Human Services (click on “emergency relief”)

Know your Disability rights when it comes to housing

National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism: works to assure the availability of residential services and other supports for adults with autism throughout their lives

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin
Share This