• Micaela Connery

Our Study for the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies


In 2015-2016 Micaela was a Research Fellow at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies exploring the issue of housing for individuals with disabilities. She published an internationally recognized study on the key challenges, best practices, and opportunities for innovation.


This paper explores the issues facing individuals, families, providers, and policy leaders across the country. Individuals with disabilities and advocates have been fighting for thoughtful supports, inclusion in communities, and independent living since the 1960s “based on the premise that people with even the most severe disabilities should have the choice of living in the community.” The challenge isn’t new, but rooted in a history of disability services that has evolved from a focus on Care (a Kennedy-driven era of special services), to Choice (a self-advocated Independent Living shift to emphasize self determination and respect, to Access (an ADA focus on equal access and opportunity). An ongoing tension between Care, Choice, and Access remains today.


Case studies profile four providers with differing approaches to housing and service delivery, and how they face common challenges in staffing, meeting regulatory requirement, and serving a population with diverse needs. Providers and regulators constantly work to find the right balance between integration and independence, risk and autonomy.


This paper concludes with recommendations for organizations and policymakers in order to support the best possible housing choices for the millions of Americans with disabilities, where solutions and services represent a thoughtful balance between Care, Choice, and Access, and should avoid “one-size fits-all” design.


Read full study here.

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