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Step 2: Reviewing housing options and locations

Step 1: Exploring and understanding housing needs and wants, and creating your housing plan

Step 1
Step 2: Reviewing housing options and locations

Step 2
Step 3: Financing the plan

Step 3
Step 4: Managing housing supports

Step 4
Step 5: Building a plan that will support change

Step 5
Step 6: Learning from others

Step 6
DSO housing navigators contact list

CONTACTS

 Step 2: Reviewing housing options and locations

Many people with developmental disabilities and their families think that Developmental Services is their only option to find affordable housing. That’s just one of many options. Take a look at our Types of housing supporting document to figure out what kind of environment you are looking for. This section of the toolkit will highlight different housing options that you may wish to consider for yourself. You will also find a variety of resources and supporting documents that were put together to help you in your search for housing.

This section will help you find the information and resources to:

  1. rent a place to live,
  2. purchase a home,
  3. create a secondary suite,
  4. overview indigenous housing options,
  5. retrofit an existing structure, and
  6. understand your options if there is no housing in your area.

Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

A. Rent a place to live

Renting a place is a good option which can be less of a financial commitment than purchasing a property. You will likely need to save for first and last month’s rent and a security deposit, but overall, the up-front costs of renting tend to be lower. Ideally, the cost of your rent and utilities should be less than 30% of your overall (gross) income. Rental rates vary from city to city and neighbourhood to neighbourhood, but the monthly cost of renting can often be lower compared to the costs associated with purchasing a home. In addition to renting within the private market, it’s recommended to explore what community housing may be available in your area, and to make sure you register the waiting lists (wait times can be long, so plan ahead).

When you enter the rental market, you will be responsible for paying monthly rent and possibly utilities. It’s a good idea to purchase tenant’s insurance, which will have a monthly fee. Although you will be responsible for treating the space with respect and keeping it clean and tidy, you will look to your landlord to take care of any maintenance or repairs that are required.

Know what you want and need

When looking for a rental, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to live in a busy urban area?
  • Do I prefer a quite more suburban area?
  • Do I need to be close to work, school, recreational activities/clubs, family, friends, etc.?
    If so what location would be ideal? ___________________________________
  • Do I need to be located close to public transit?
  • Do I need to have shops and services in walking distance (grocery store, bank, gym, etc.)?

Your budget will be an important factor during your search for housing. It will be helpful to research the average cost of rent in your preferred location(s). You will need to be able to afford rent and utilities and still have money left over for groceries, other bills (tenant’s insurance, telephone, internet, cable, technology subscriptions, etc.) and the things you like to do for fun. When researching possible neighborhoods, you will want to look for an area where you feel safe and able to access your local surroundings freely.

Have you thought about what type of a rental you are interested in looking for? You could rent a unit in an apartment or condo building. Do you want somewhere with an elevator, or will your search include buildings with walk-up access (stairs)? Would you consider renting a house, or a part of a house (e.g. basement apartment)? What type of amenities are you looking for? Units in a building or condo may include common space, like a library or party room. They don’t always offer outdoor space like a back garden or patio, which you may be more likely to find when renting a house. What type of laundry facilities are you looking for? Would you prefer laundry in your unit or in common room in the building, or are you comfortable with accessing a laundromat? Is there a laundromat close by? How does technology factor into your plan? Is it important to have access to reliable access to internet? You can complete the My rental home needs supporting document to figure out your rental home needs. Also, renting a house or part of a house may mean responsibilities such as shoveling snow and/or cutting the grass, whereas an apartment unit or condo usually doesn’t require this kind of responsibilities.

Depending on your location, there are a variety of places you may begin looking for rental housing. You can contact your local DSO housing navigator for suggestions. Some housing navigators may have access to a list of affordable housing postings in their area. There may be listings online and some municipalities have community organizations that help with finding housing. You may find bulletin boards within local community centers, libraries, places of worship, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. Another possible option is through word of mouth, speak to your family and members of your network to see if they have heard of any opportunities.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has put together some useful information for those looking to rent. We highly encourage you to visit their website for more information, such as:

  • Things to consider before renting
  • Visiting the rental property
  • Signing the lease
  • Credit checks and bad credit
  • Rental payments and deposits

Community housing (also known as subsidized housing or social housing) and affordable housing

Community and affordable housing is housing that is created with government support to ensure that it is more affordable for low-income households. Government assistance can be provided in various forms, including funding, free or reduced-cost access to land, access to lower mortgage rates, etc. Access to community housing is managed by Coordinated Access Centers across the province.

Subsidized housing (or Rent-Geared-to-Income)

This type of housing is subsidized by the government and is available at a lower cost to the renter. The amount of rent you pay is calculated based on your total household income, usually it works out to approximately 30% of your gross monthly income. If you are receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), your rent would be calculated based on your monthly rent benefit rather than your gross monthly income. Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) units are available in publicly owned social housing as well as co-ops, non-profit housing and the private market. For more information on applying for subsidized housing, contact your local DSO housing navigator, or Coordinated Access Centre.

In addition to subsidized housing, there are several other programs that have been created to offset the cost of housing for low and middle income individuals and families. More information about these programs can be found through your Coordinated Access Centre. Some of these programs include:

  • Rent supplement is paid to landlords on behalf of households in need of rental assistance (e.g. Rent-Geared-to-Income, or RGI). In most cases, the rent for a subsidized unit is set at 30% of a household’s total monthly income before taxes and adjustments. Rental supplements can be maintained if the household continues to meet eligibility criteria and follow program requirements (e.g. submitting to an annual review of income and assets).
  • Housing allowance is a fixed monthly subsidy that is paid to the renter and is portable. This means that it can be used in the private housing market anywhere in the province of Ontario. The allowance usually lasts for several years. Allowances are often targeted towards specific populations (e.g. homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, or human trafficking).
  • Affordable rental housing would be a unit for which rent is set at between 80% and 100% of the average market rent in your community (as determined by CMHC). The rent and how you apply for these units will vary by municipality. In some cases, there will be an application form available through the Coordinated Access Centre. In other municipalities, the units are managed independently through the organizations or developers that created them. For more information on applying for an affordable unit, contact your local DSO housing navigator or Coordinated Access Centre.
  • Supportive housing is affordable housing that is linked to supports that allow people to live independently in the community. Supportive housing can be beneficial for many populations, including those living with physical and/or developmental disabilities, seniors, and individuals living with mental issues and/or addictions.
  • Alternative housing is social housing from a provider who is mandated to provide housing to households that are exiting homelessness. There is an emphasis on support to encourage community integration and the maintenance of stable housing.
  • Domiciliary hostels are private or non-profit residences that provide long-term housing to vulnerable adults who require some supervision and services to maintain their independent living. Residents are typically living with a psychiatric, developmental or physical illness and/or disability. These are not available in all areas so check with the Coordinated Access Centre in your area.

Basic eligibility for subsidized housing, or Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) in Ontario

You can apply for Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing if you meet the following criteria:

  • At least one member of the household is 16 years or older
  • At least one member of the household can live independently, with or without support services
  • Each member of the household can prove status in Canada as one of the following:
    • a Canadian citizen,
    • a permanent resident of Canada,
    • an applicant for Canadian permanent resident status, or
    • a refugee claimant or convention refugee.

Wait times for subsidized housing

The demand for subsidized housing is greater than the availability. Wait times tend to be long and vary from region to region. Contact your local Coordinated Access Centre for more information.

Priority access for subsidized housing

Across the province there are populations who have been identified to require priority or faster access to subsidized housing. These groups include:

  • Survivors of domestic abuse or human trafficking
  • Terminally ill patients with less than two years to live

In some regions, other populations may be identified as priority groups. Contact your local DSO housing navigator or your local Coordinated Access Centre for more information.

Accessibility and special needs

Requests can be made for accessible buildings and other accommodations required to meet an applicant’s mobility or special needs (e.g. ramps, automatic doors and doorways, etc.). Modified units can be provided to applicants who are physically disabled and who use a wheelchair on a full-time basis. Modifications may include features such as grab bars, lowered countertops, and wider doorframes. In some cases, there may be the option of applying for an additional bedroom when a resident requires the care of an overnight caregiver or space for medical equipment.

Mandate housing

Mandate housing is housing that is operated by providers who are mandated to serve people from specific populations. For example, a mandate may require tenants to be seniors, artists or members of a specific cultural community. Your local DSO housing navigator, or Coordinated Access Centre can provide you with more information.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about social housing

Q: Whether you’re creating your own plan, or waiting for Ministry funded residential supports; why should you consider applying for social housing?
A: Access to housing you can afford is a key element to maintaining sustainable housing. It’s always good to explore all available resources.
Q: How can I apply for social housing?
A: In many regions, applications for social housing can be made online, in person or by mail. Your local DSO housing navigator can provide you with more information.
Q: I might be interested in accessing social housing in the future, but I’m not yet ready to move; when should I apply?
A: The wait times for social housing vary from region to region; in some cases, the wait can be as long as 12+ years. It’s beneficial to remain familiar with approximate wait times in your area and to apply well in advance of when you will be looking to move. Your Coordinated Access Centre can provide you with more information regarding the wait times.
Q: How is the waitlist for social housing managed
A: For those who do not meet criteria for priority access, contact your local DSO housing navigator or Coordinated Access Centre for more information. The waiting list is currently managed on a first-come-first-served basis.
Q: As a caregiver(s), I/we don’t meet the eligibility criteria for social housing, could my/our loved one still be eligible?
A: If your loved-one meets the eligibility criteria for social housing (16 years or older, can live independently or has access to the support they require to live independently, meets residency and income requirements), they could make an application independent of you and may be eligible.
Q: When applying for social housing, can I choose where I want to live?
A: When completing or updating your application for social housing, you can select one or more buildings that you would be interested in moving to. You will want to make these selections carefully and only choose buildings where you really want to live. You may refuse a unit, but you should be aware that this may cancel your application and you will need to re-apply. This means that you would begin waiting again at the bottom of the list. The number of buildings you select could have an impact on the wait time for housing.
Q: If I register for Rent-Geared-to-Income, will I also be considered for the portable Housing Allowances?
A: Housing Allowances are generally targeted towards specific groups (e.g. those experiencing chronic homelessness or survivors of domestic abuse, etc.) and a separate application is required.
Q: What do I need to do while I wait?
A: Make sure you are aware of your obligation to maintain your eligibility. Policies vary by region. In some cases, you must confirm your interest in remaining on the Centralized Waiting List for housing every 12 months. You must also notify your Coordinated Access Centre of any changes to your information (e.g. address or phone number).
Q: If I’m receiving a housing allowance and accept a Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) unit, will I lose my Housing Allowance?
A: Yes; getting a housing allowance should not change your status on a waiting list. However, if someone receiving a housing allowance accepts an offer of rent-geared-to-income housing, they will no longer be able to receive the monthly housing allowance.

Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

B. Purchase a home

When you think of purchasing a home, it may be helpful for you to make a ‘wish list’ that identifies your needs in a home and neighbourhood. Would you prefer a home in the city? Or, would you prefer a suburban neighbourhood or rural location? How much space and how many bedrooms will you need? Is it important for you to have access to outdoor space such as a balcony or yard? Is there a need for parking? What local amenities and transit options will you need? Does the home need to be located close to school, work, recreational facilities and/or health care services? To help you with your home purchase needs, complete the My home purchase needs supporting document. When completing this document, it’s important that you differentiate between preferences and necessities.

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, you will likely need to examine if you have the financial resources necessary to move forward with purchasing a home. Below are some things that may be useful to consider when exploring this option:

  • The average cost of a home/condo (of the size you need) in the area or areas you consider living
  • The cost of housing (mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities and maintenance fees where applicable) should be no more than 32% of your average gross monthly income
  • Your monthly debt load (cost of housing, loans, leases, credit card payments/line of credit payments, other mortgage payments) should be no greater than 40% of your average gross monthly income
  • What will your upfront costs be? (down payment, home inspection/appraisal fees, insurance costs, land registration fee, legal and real estate fees, taxes, moving costs, necessary repairs or renovations, etc.)

There are many budgeting tools and mortgage calculators available to assist you as you consider the financial responsibilities of purchasing a home. Here are some Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) links that you may find helpful:

Once you have worked out a budget, you may wish to arrange a meeting with a credit counselor or potential lenders and see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage, or what steps you may need to consider to work towards this goal (e.g. save more money, pay off debt/loans, reconsider your wish-list). You can also complete the Is purchasing a home right for me? supporting document to figure out if purchasing a home is the right choice for you.

Where can you look for financial incentives/assistance?

  • First time home buyer incentive
    A new program that offers 5% of a first time buyer’s purchase of existing homes, and 5 or 10% of a first time buyer’s purchase of a new build.
  • Home Buyers Amount
    If you are a first-time home buyer, you may qualify for a $5000.00 tax credit.
  • Down Payment Assistance Program
    The Down Payment Assistance program provides you with down payment assistance for the purchase of an affordable home. It serves current renters interested in purchasing a home. To find out if your city participates in the program visit the Show Me the Green website.
  • Show Me The Green
    In some areas there may be forgivable loans and/or grants available to homeowners and landlords for major repairs, to add habitable living space to remediate overcrowding, for accessibility modifications, to create secondary/garden suites or repair and rehabilitate shelter units that assist victims of family violence. Show Me the Green provides information and links to regionally specific opportunities. You can also contact your local DSO housing navigator for more information.
  • The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP)
    This is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.

Non-profit housing developers

Non-profit housing developers have various models and strategies they use to keep costs associated with building down, so that they can pass on the savings to their customers. In some cases, they may offer benefits such as down-payment assistance. Speak to your local DSO housing navigator to learn about programs in your area.

Habitat for Humanity (HFH)

Applying for a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) home could be an alternative to waiting for a ministry funded housing option. HFH homes do not have to be built just for one family where all members are related. There are many types of ‘intentional families’ that could comprise 3 or 4 unrelated people who choose to live together. Imagine the satisfaction someone would feel from actually participating in the building of their own home? Many of the supported people could actively participate in providing some of the sweat equity required to build a home, sanding, painting, staining, nail guns and hammering just to name a few job tasks that could be learned.

Habitat for Humanity Canada brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. With the help of volunteers and Habitat homeowners, local Habitats in every province and territory help build and rehabilitate safe, decent and affordable homes, including single-family and multi-unit houses.

Habitat does not give away free homes. The families who partner with HFH pay an interest-free mortgage geared to their income and volunteer 500 hours with Habitat. As Habitat homeowners pay off their mortgage, the funds are invested into a revolving fund, which is used by their local Habitat to build more homes for low-income families in the community.

Habitat for Humanity (HFH) inspiring stories

  • Roia family’s story
    This story is about how one mom and her son with autism partnered with Community Living North Halton and HFH.
  • A short HFH video
    This short HFH video is about how a home was custom built for people with autism. Note: This video is a video of the story above.
  • A HFH podcast
    This is a podcast on how HFH’s affordable homeownership works.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mission is to help Canadians meet their housing needs. Here are some ways in which they can help you:

  • Purchasing – Tools and information to help you buy a house or a condominium
  • Rental Housing – Rental rules and processes for building owners, landlords and tenants
  • Developing and Renovating – Resources and funding for new builds, conversions and renovations
  • Managing and Maintaining – Tools and funding for housing management and sustainable maintenance
  • Data and Research – The latest trends, research, data and insights on housing in Canada
  • Finance and Investing – Mortgage insurance, securities, bonds and more for professionals

Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

C. Create a secondary suite

Whether you plan to create a secondary suite, legal basement apartment or a coach house, whatever type you choose, these options can provide long term sustainability while also providing an opportunity for your loved one to learn and put into practice necessary life skills which promote and build independence. These options also allow people to age in place and remain close to a community they have come to know and thrive in.

A secondary suite can help you:

  • establish a transitional independent living space,
  • create an income suite for a PSW student or similar supports,
  • plan for live in supports for the future, and
  • renovate now to provide future mobility and accessibility needs.

If you are considering moving or purchasing a home for the first time look for a home that has a finished basement, or one that has the potential to be turned into a legal apartment in the future. A basement that already has its own entrance/exit and large enough windows for fire safety will save you money in the long run. When the time comes for your son/daughter to try living more independently they can move into their own place within the home and adjust to a more independent lifestyle while still having their family in the same home for added piece of mind. If the secondary unit can accommodate two bedrooms, consider renting to a local student that is studying in the Developmental Services/Social Services, provide them with affordable housing while they offer mentorship, companionship and teach life skills to your loved one in return.

If your loved one stands to inherit your home, then the legal suite can continue to be a source of income to help pay any mortgage/upkeep or support costs. Long term live-in supports are definitely an option with more than one self-contained living unit in the home.

You may also be eligible for tax cuts and rebates if you build a legal apartment into/onto your existing home or property.

Zoning by-laws vary from town to town, so be sure to research where your area stands on the creation of secondary suites. Your local DSO housing navigator may be able to provide information specific to your area.

Need more resources on secondary suite options? Check out the following links:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) information on secondary suites and guides to creating secondary suites from various districts
Learn how a self-contained unit can help you create an adaptable home that brings ongoing benefit.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) information on funding for secondary and garden suites
This program provides financial support to modify existing on-reserve family homes to create affordable secondary or garden suites.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) information on home modifications for persons with disabilities
Funding to help modify on-reserve housing to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
Home renovation financing options to consider before starting a renovation project.

Laneway Housing Guide
You can complete the form with your name and email address to have the Laneway Housing Guide emailed to you.

Laneway Suites Program – City of Toronto
The Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program provides funding in form of a forgivable loan of up to $50,000 for eligible property owners developing a laneway suite.

Ontario Building Code Information: Adding a Second Unit in an Existing House
This guide can help homeowners plan and build a second unit within their house.

Ontario Renovation Grants: 82 Government Grants, Energy Rebates & Tax Credits for Ontario Homeowners
This online resource provides information about government grants, energy rebates, and tax credits for Ontario.

Ontario Secondary Suite Research Study
This study is an in-depth look into secondary suites in the province of Ontario.

Thinking about a coach house?
A newspaper article on coach houses.

Secondary Suites – Landlord’s self-help centre
Second Units is an important tool in contributing to the supply of private sector affordable housing choices.

Secondary Suites & Granny Flats: 19 Canadian Grants + 11 Renovation Tips
This comprehensive guide covers much information about secondary suites and granny flats, as well as grants and renovation tips.


Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

D. Overview indigenous housing options

If you are indigenous, you may qualify for Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing and Affordable Housing through the Urban Native Housing Program, the Rural and Native Housing Program or the First Nations, Inuit, Metis Urban and Rural (FIMUR) program. In some cases, you may be asked to provide verification of status and in others you can self identify. Contact your Coordinated Access Centre to see if housing for indigenous peoples is available in your community.

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) housing

Rent-Geared-to-Income units are rented at 25% of your gross income or the maximum shelter allowance that you are entitled through Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. In some cases, all utilities will be included in your rent as well as basic appliances such a refrigerator and stove.

For Toronto, you can access home ownership and rental programs through MIZIWE BIIK.

For more information on programs in all other parts of Ontario, please visit Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS).

Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP)
When major repairs are needed to bring on-reserve housing up to minimum health and safety standards, CMHC is there to help. Through their Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) On-Reserve, they help First Nations cover the costs of major repairs to substandard homes.

Insured Loans for On-Reserve First Nation Housing
If you live on reserve and are looking to buy, build or renovate a single-family home or multi-unit rental property in your community, you may be eligible for an insured loan from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to help First Nations members to gain access to financing for housing projects.

Are you looking to buy, build or renovate a single-family home or multi-unit rental property in your community?

Insured loans from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) help First Nation members living on-reserve get access to financing for housing projects.

How does the loan program work?

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides loan insurance to approved lenders. This allows them to confidently offer guaranteed loans for on-reserve First Nation housing projects. An approved lender might be a bank, credit union or Aboriginal Capital Corporation.

An approved lender will work with you to prepare and submit a loan application to CMHC for approval. Your council will also help you get the necessary approvals for your project.

All loans are secured by a council resolution and a ministerial loan guarantee from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). If you cannot repay the loan, the outstanding balance will be paid to the approved lender by INAC on your behalf. However, INAC will then need repayment from your First Nations.

Who is eligible for a loan?

To be eligible for a loan, you must:

  • Have a certificate of possession or have been granted use of the land by the First Nations
  • Meet the approved lender’s minimum requirements, including being able to repay the loan

There are also additional requirements based on the type of property you’re purchasing or building. They include:

  • If you’re a homebuyer, you must have savings (or INAC contributions) equal to at least 5% of the loan’s value. This means if the cost to build your house is $90,000, you need a down payment of at least $4,500
  • When investing in a property of 4 units or less, the minimum down payment is 20% of the loan’s value. CMHC insured loans are available for qualified rental projects up to a maximum of 80% of the loan’s value
  • For rental projects of 5 or more units, the minimum down payment is 15% of the loan’s value. CMHC-insured loans are available for qualified rental projects up to a maximum of 85% of the loan’s value

For more information about this program, please contact your First Nations Housing Specialist.


Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

E. Retrofit an existing structure

Sometimes retrofitting an existing home/apartment is the best alternative to independent living. Whether converting an area of your home into an independent suite or completely remodeling a home/apartment for accessibility or sensory needs, there is a lot to consider.

Are you going to do the work yourself or hire a contractor?

If you decide that hiring a contractor is the best way to go, check out the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) guide entitled Hiring a Contractor for useful tips, interview suggestions, and recommendations around obtaining estimates.

Physical accessibility

If the environment is required to be accessible (or even if it is not at this time) consider applying universal design principles. Here is a video on universal design as well. For suggestions on bathroom modifications, check out our Bathroom modifications - Tip sheet.

Smart home design

Technology can be of great assistance with building independence. Technology is always changing and there are some very progressive technologies that are entering the market every day to assist people with physical or cognitive limitations to live as independently as possible. Building or retrofitting your home is the perfect time to consider ‘roughing in’ current or future potential technology needs. You can reference our Creating a smart home - Tip sheet supporting document to know what you need to create a smart home environment.

Sensory aware environment

For many individuals with autism or global development disabilities, sensory considerations must be addressed. When you are designing or retrofitting a home, there are several things to consider. Reference our Creating a sensory friendly home - Tip sheet supporting document to figure out what you need to have a friendly and peaceful sensory environment in your home.

Financial assistance

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
CMHC has information about a number of financing options and practical advice to consider before starting a renovation project.

March of Dimes Home and Vehicle Modification Program
Provides funding for basic home and/or vehicle modifications.

March of Dimes Assistive Devices Program
Provides low income individuals with assistance to purchase, repair or maintain a wide variety of mobility or assistive equipment.

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
RDSP is a plan that allows you to save for the future. If you already have an RDSP, you can withdraw money from this plan to help pay for necessary renovations.

Ontario Assistive Devices Program (ADP)
ADP will pay for 75% of the price of an approved item. If you are an ODSP recipient, you may qualify for even more.

Show Me The Green
In some areas there may be forgivable loans and/or grants available to homeowners and landlords for major repairs, to add habitable living space to remediate overcrowding, for accessibility modifications, to create secondary/garden suites or repair and rehabilitate shelter units that assist victims of family violence. Show Me the Green provides information and links to regionally specific opportunities. You can also contact your local DSO housing navigator for more information.


Disclaimer: This online toolkit is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, technical, business or other advice and should not be relied on as such. Please consult a professional if you have any questions related to the topics discussed in this toolkit. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) and its host agencies do not endorse any commercial product, process or service referenced in this toolkit, or its producer or provider. The DSO also does not make any express or implied warranties, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or usefulness of any information contained in this toolkit, including web-links to other servers. All URLs mentioned in this document will link to an external website.

F. Understand your options if there is no housing in your area

Introduction

It could be that in some areas there is no housing available which will make it difficult to create a plan for independent living. Other families have been faced with a similar situation and have worked to create the type of housing that they need. This section will provide you with a few examples of partnerships and options that could be available to you.

Create partnerships with developers or non-profit housing corporations

Many successful housing projects have been created as a result of families partnering with non-profit housing corporations or developers to provide the housing that they need. The following are a couple of partnerships in other areas:

Partners share vision for affordable homes

This partnership between All Together Affordable Housing and Springdale Developments in Belleville has created many affordable units some of which are designated for persons with a developmental disability.

The following collaborative funded by the Developmental Services Housing Task Force Initiative was made possible with input from proactive families.
http://www.planningnetwork.ca/HTF2/viewer/desktop/#page/14

Create a secondary suite in your home

And encourage other families to do the same! This unit could be for your family member or another individual with a developmental disability, or a person who provides support to your family. Some areas have funding or incentives to assist with the cost.

Consider co-housing

These following examples of co-housing for seniors can be adopted and adapted for people with developmental disabilities:

Apply for a housing allowance

Many municipalities offer housing allowances which are portable and stay with the individual and will help to bridge the gap between the market rent of a unit and the rent that you can afford to pay. In many cases the amount is set and may not completely cover the difference but it will reduce the amount you will have to contribute for safe, affordable housing.

Join a family group

See if there is a family group in your area that is already working on partnerships and development of affordable housing. If you don’t know of any groups you can go to the Partners For Planning website for a list, or check with a local agency.

Apply to Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity creates affordable homeownership for families with low to moderate incomes by providing zero interest loans and geared-to-income mortgage payments. Contact your local affiliate to see if there is a potential for partnership.

You can use the following Habitat for Humanity examples from the Developmental Services Housing Task Force to help guide your discussions.

Habitat for Humanity Heartland project on page 26 and A “Devine” life – Community Partners Initiative on page 34.

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