Young woman moving into a new home



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Knowledge Is Key–Housing

You don’t need to have all the answers right now. What’s most important is knowing where to get the information you need to live as independently as possible.  Below are some key resources on topics which can help you reach your independent living goals. 


As you finish high school, you may start to think about living on your own. Housing is a basic need and one of the first things you will want to think about. There are many different living situations, and it is up to you to choose what is right for you. 

This guide can provide answers to your questions:

What kind of home do you want to live in?
checkbox Rent your own apartment
checkbox Rent an apartment with one or more people
checkbox Buy a house or condominium (condo)
checkbox Live in a group home
checkbox Live with your parents, other relatives or guardian

What kind of access or accommodations do you need?
checkbox No steps
checkbox Accessible bathroom with roll-in shower
checkbox Visual doorbell and fire alarm
checkbox Assistive technology, such as telephone or alarm clock

How will you pay for it?
checkbox A job
checkbox Income from SSI or other benefits
checkbox Help from your parents or others
checkbox Subsidized housing
checkbox Who can you go to for help?
checkbox Your local independent living center (see section on Independent Living Centers)
checkbox Your local Regional Center (see section on  Regional Centers)

Finding Affordable Housing To Rent

Every community has some apartments and houses that are called “affordable” housing. That means that it costs less to live there than it costs in an average apartment or house in that area. You can get a listing of affordable housing in your community (see below). You can also ask apartment managers if they have affordable housing; it never hurts to ask!  

California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) - A state agency that can provide you with a list of affordable rental housing developments, organized by county:  

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - A federal (national) agency that supports access to affordable housing organized by city, county, or zip code, type of apartment, and number of bedrooms:  

Centers for Independent Living These centers can provide you with phone numbers and addresses for affordable apartment complexes in your area, they can help you fill out rental applications, and they can help you identify places that are accessible to you. See section below on “Independent Living Centers” for more information, and how to find a center near you.

Housing Choice / Section 8 Vouchers - Often called Section 8 vouchers, these coupons can help you pay for an apartment. This is a program of the federal government designed to assist people with very low incomes to get housing. A participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program. With the voucher, you usually pay about 30% of the rent, and the government will pay the rest of your rent directly to the landlord.

Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many Housing Choice vouchers as there are people who need them, so it is hard to get a voucher. If you are interested, you should contact your local Public Housing Agency as soon as possible to apply. You will probably need to get on the waiting list. If the waiting list is closed, check in regularly to find out when the waiting list opens up. You may also check Public Housing Agencies in other cities and counties near where you would like to live, to see if you can get on their waiting list sooner.

Housing Choice vouchers are run by your local Public Housing Agency (Housing Authority). To find yours, go to:  

Basics to Remember About Renting a House or Apartment

  • Read your lease before you sign it and before you give anyone rent money or a deposit!
  • Be sure to pay your rent on time every month.
  • Keep your apartment clean and report any problems to your landlord immediately.
  • Get a copy of your lease and any other documents.
  • Pay by check or get a copy of your receipts.
  • If you have any problems, put them in writing and keep a copy for yourself. 
  • For more tips on renting a house or apartment, visit:  

Finding Roommates

A great way to save money on rent is to find roommates that you might feel comfortable living with. You may rent a room from someone, or share a large place with many roommates. Whatever you decide, it is important to have a written agreement in place, showing how much each person will pay for rent and what the expectations are for sharing utilities (i.e. electricity, cable, internet, etc.).

Good places to look for roommates:

  • Look at shared housing for available rooms, or post your own ad for a roommate at
  • Your local college or community colleges have bulletin boards or databases of roommates or rooms.
  • Your local newspaper: check for room listings. 

Buying a Home

Rather than spending your money on rent every month, buying a home is a great chance for you to invest your money in something that will likely gain value and will allow you to have something of your own. However, keep in mind that owning a home is a big responsibility. Not only will you have to pay a monthly mortgage, you will also be responsible for all repairs to the house. There are many different programs to help you get a home, such as down payment assistance programs and first-time homebuyer programs. You can ask your local independent living center how to find them. One good example is the HomeChoice Program, which is a program for people with disabilities that makes it more affordable to buy a home, by providing a low interest rate loan.  In California, check out the HomeChoice Program at: 

In addition to providing assistance with your rent, you can also pay for your home with a Section 8 voucher. Go to your local Public Housing Agency (see information above) to get a voucher, and talk to them about using it to buy a home.

Housing Rights

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in any type of housing related transaction on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, color, if you have children under the age of 18, or if you are disabled. In the state of California it is also illegal to discriminate against anyone because of marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, source of income and arbitrary reasons. Check your state and local laws. 

That means that a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because of your disability, your race or ethnicity, your sexual orientation, or other factors.

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