Health and Housing among Low-Income Adults with Physical Disabilities

The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of living environment on the health and access to health care of low-income working-age adults with physical disabilities. We conducted focus groups of participants with physical disabilities in the District of Columbia living in each of three housing situations (a homeless shelter, a nursing home, and an inaccessible house or apartment). Twenty-eight people participated in the focus groups. Most were male (79%) and African American (93%). Participants from a homeless shelter expressed concerns about accessibility and sanitation at the shelter. Nursing home participants expressed a need for privacy and autonomy that would foster consumer-directed care. Participants living in inaccessible apartments or houses worried about their ability to maintain daily living and social activities. Participants perceived barrier-free housing conditions to be a prerequisite for independent living and for ensuring their basic health and well-being.