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Ohio 811 Program Offers Affordable Housing for Ohioans with DD

Finding housing for low-income adults with disabilities is challenging. For Josh Vandergriff and other Ohioans with disabilities, a program that offers a new affordable housing option is a step in the right direction toward increased independence.

The Ohio 811 Program is administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), in partnership with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. It is one of multiple programs across the state that provides affordable housing in apartment complexes. However, the 811 Program is unique in that it uses project-based subsidies in tax credit developments. The program is not available to the public. Low-income people who have a disability and qualify for Medicaid must be referred by a local partner.

Before the Ohio 811 Program helped him secure a one-bedroom apartment, Josh lived in a two-bedroom house with a roommate. Without a consistent roommate to fill the other room, Josh struggled to pay the two-bedroom rent and had trouble adjusting to each new roommate that moved in.

Josh’s new apartment is close to downtown giving him the freedom to walk around and visit restaurants, coffee shops, the bakery, and other businesses. With his supplemental security income (SSI) at a fixed rate of $841 and less than $200 spent on rent, Josh can use his extra money on trips through his day program, various apartment needs, and more.

“Josh likes living on his own and always wants to be on the go,” said Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities Service and Support Administrator Elizabeth Sammons. “It’s nice for him to have a place of his own that he can afford.”

Over 270 units have been filled throughout the state thanks to a previously awarded federal grant. A second grant will add 232 more units in Fall 2022. The goal of the program remains the same; provide housing, produce more apartments, and bring people into the program. 

The referral process starts at the local level with county boards of developmental disabilities, mental health providers, and ODM partners who assist with housing. Each system has its own referral agents. Once the referral agent identifies a good fit, that person is placed on the statewide waiting list. Available apartments are offered to those highest up on the list who are interested in living in the county with the opening. Although there are not available apartments in all 88 Ohio counties, if there’s enough interest in an area, the 811 Program will investigate housing options.

Each successful match of a person with a developmental disability to an apartment is a win for the program and someone looking for more independence like Josh.

For more information or questions, visit the Ohio 811 Program’s website or contact DODD Housing Manager Jeannette Welsh at Jeannette.Welsh@dodd.ohio.gov with specific questions.