Housing Policy at Access Living

Housing is a human right and yet, disabled people too often face homelessness and housing insecurity. As a result, they tend to spend more time institutionalized, on the street, or living with family members than the majority of other populations. Our housing policy work aims to make systemic and broad, long-term changes that impact people with disabilities nationwide.

Access Living supports accessible, affordable, integrated housing for people with disabilities. We fight for:

  • Accessible housing – Private housing that was first occupied after March 13, 1991, must be accessible. As a result, there isn’t enough such housing in Chicago. Affordable housing, which are usually older structures, often are inaccessible.
  • Affordable housing – People with disabilities tend to have lower incomes, which thus increases the overall societal need for affordable housing. People with disabilities also often have fixed incomes, the average of which does not cover  the rent on a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.
  • Integrated housing – We do not support the development of segregated, institutional settings such as those created when apartment complexes, large group homes similar facilities are built specifically for people with disabilities. If disabled people are segregated they cannot fully  participate in community life

Current housing policy projects

We have a number of projects involving housing currently underway including:

  • Operation of a Fair Housing Testing Program to determine if discrimination in obtaining rental housing took place. This can sometimes lead to legal action. If you would like to join the program as a housing tester, send a resume and one-page writing sample to HousingTesting@accessliving.org.
  • Updates to Chicago’s building code; we’re trying to make Chicago’s building code the most accessible in the nation.
  • A federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago for not having accessible homeless shelters and for turning people away because they have a disability.
  • A federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago over its failure to make its affordable housing accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Legislative and administrative advocacy efforts with the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois  to increase resources for affordable, accessible, integrated housing. Examples of such resources include dedicated funding for accessibility modifications and incentives for developers who wish to create this type of housing. 

Iliana Rivera Haven

Community Organizer – Housing


(312) 640-2158

Our community organizing around housing issues

Access Living’s Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH) is one of our community organizing groups, and fights for accessible, affordable, integrated housing in Chicago.

DRACH gives the people most impacted a chance to develop their leadership skills and to be directly involved in advocacy work. They teach community organizations and the broader public about the need for housing accessibility, while taking action to fuel change.

DRACH works with coalitions throughout Chicago, including the Chicago Housing Initiative and Lift the Ban, which seek to expand and protect subsidized or affordable rental housing.

A group of four DRACH members pose for the camera
A group of four DRACH members pose for the camera.