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Midway, PA (724) 796-3040 Erie, PA (814) 315-0123 Franklin, PA (814) 209-4699

A Guide to Purchasing Housing for People with Special Needs

A home purchase can be a lengthy and involved process even when things are going well. If you or a loved one have a physical or developmental disability, the process can be even more challenging. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you with your search.

Government Resources

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has resources for people looking for special needs housing. You can find information about nondiscrimination laws, assistance animals, housing providers, and more. Take the time to learn about all the resources that are available to you before you start the house-hunting process.

Finding the Right Area to Live In

Before finding a house, figure out the general area you or your loved one want to live in. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does your loved one with disabilities commute to school or work?
  • Are they able to drive, or do they need to be near public transportation?
  • Are they a K-12 student? If so, find out what after-school programs are available and if those programs are at the school or located somewhere else.
  • How close does your loved one need to live to their doctor or hospital?
  • Consider the proximity to restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Find out if these places have restrictions regarding assistance animals, if necessary.

Finding Local Resources

After you’ve found an area that you think will work, look for people who live in that area who could help. Maybe some of them have faced similar challenges. You could reach out to local support groups, religious groups, or housing assistance advocacy groups. If your children are school age, you may find support and guidance through school message boards.

Finding the Right Home

Once you’ve settled on an area to live in, you can start looking for a house that will fit the needs of your loved one with disabilities. If mobility is an issue, you may want to look for single-story or ranch-style houses. Smooth floor materials like wood or laminate also help with mobility. If wheelchair accessibility is relevant, make sure all the doorways in the house can accommodate a wheelchair.

Figure out what modifications, if any, would be required to adapt the house to the needs of your loved one with disabilities. Ramps, grab bars, and similar additions are relatively simple to add. Find out if your state or local government offers reimbursements for these types of accommodations.

In addition to government agencies that provide help with searching for special needs housing, some realtors and lenders are familiar with the requirements and the process. You can track them down by reviewing local realtor websites, lender websites, and talking with people in local chat groups. Some online resources include Zillow, Redfin, Homesnap, and

Remember that this process can take a long time, and be patient. Buying a home, especially one with special accommodations, is a big decision, and getting it right will pay off in the long run. Working with professionals helps make the process much easier. Take the time to seek out local resources, an experienced realtor, and an understanding lender. It’s also a good idea to work with a trusted special needs attorney who can help you secure government assistance and review contracts for the purchase and modification of your new home.

Our law firm is dedicated to keeping you informed of issues that affect persons with disabilities and seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for expenses associated with disabilities and long-term medical needs, as well as the transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

This article offers a summary of aspects of special needs planning and elder law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. We invite you to contact our offices in Midway, Erie, and Franklin PA to learn more about your options.

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