The Kelsey & Urban Institute launch: Disability-Forward Housing Future – A Needs Definition and Case for Impact

The Kelsey and Urban Institute are proud to partner to conduct a national needs assessment on the existing and projected housing needs of people with disabilities. This research will serve as a blueprint for what existing data tells us, what further research may be needed, and the broad-based policy solutions to meet the need.  

The first phase of the project examines household information about people with disabilities. It will provide a comprehensive picture of the current population of people with disabilities, their living arrangements, households, and other characteristics that impact their community living experience. 

Our research team includes people with and without disabilities at both The Kelsey and at The Urban Institute, a non-profit research organization based in Washington, DC that provides data and evidence to help advance upward mobility and equity. In addition, we are proud to partner with an esteemed national Community Advisory Board of people with different types of disabilities, who are consulting on this needs assessment at key junctures of the research, including data interrogation and a Data Walk. Read more about them and their expertise below. Together we hope to help grow and support a culture where lived experience is valued as critical expertise and research processes are more equitable.  

Stay tuned for the first issue brief to be released in the fall. Sign up for our Field Notes to receive the announcements and the other related work ahead.

Community Advisory Board

Jensen is pictured with short hair and is wearing glasses and a blue t-shirt.

Jenson Carabello

Jensen Caraballo (he/him) is a disability rights activist and a member of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) at The Kelsey and Urban Institute. The CAB is a project that seeks to understand the housing affordability needs for Disabled People. Jensen is a 32-year-old Queer and Disabled person of color. He was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, and was forced to live in an institution at the age of 15. He learned to advocate for his civil rights and fought hard to transition out of the nursing facility. He now lives in the community in his own home. He is passionate about dismantling ableism and firmly believes all lives are worth living with dignity and respect. 

Sandra, a medium brown skinned woman, is wearing a spaghetti strap black and white dress with a black shirt underneath it. She is smiling and stands with a cane, and her prosthetic left leg is visible.

Sandra Conley

Sandra Conley (she/her) was a AAPD 2022 Summer Intern and is an advocate based in Alabama. She is a person with a disability, whose mobility issues have changed with age. She has developed a desire to advocate for all, based on her identities as a cis-gender woman person of color with multiple disabilities.  As a result of her multiple identities, including that of former Occupational Therapist, her goals are to help all marginalized people to understand the policies that impact them; and to provide opportunities for more marginalized communities to have an active role in defining and implementing the policies which most impact them.

Allen is a light skinned person with short dark brown hair, green eyes, and a closely trimmed beard. He is wearing a salmon-colored shirt. The background of the photo is a plain white wall. Some wood trim is visible and is also painted white.

Allen Hines

Allen Hines is the Housing Access Director at Community Vision, where his team provides direct support to people with disabilities in and around Portland, Oregon, to find housing in the community. Hines is also the director of Real Choice Initiative (RCI), an organization run by and for people with disabilities to educate about community living and support individuals to choose the setting that best meets their needs. In 2018, RCI passed a state law that requires case managers to present a range of settings to individuals they serve, including housing in the community. RCI is currently finishing a study on Portlanders with disabilities and civic engagement.

Lisa, a dark-skinned woman, is wearing a pink t-shirt with dark straight hair and bangs. She is standing in front of a concrete building.

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell (She/her) is a member of the Black And Pink Milwaukee Chapter, whose mission is to afford community-based resources and assistance to persons of all walks of life, creeds, and origins, who are in the US Penal System. The chapter provides support, humility, love, and due diligent advocacy to transform the US Penal System to be of a healthier rehabilitative state towards assurance that all lives are valued, treated, and afforded much-needed “Due Care”  support while incarcerated and upon return to the community at large. Lisa comes to this work due to a personal journey of housing insecurity as a disabled person and hopes to add this experience towards hopeful change so that people who are suffering similar inhumane circumstances may have a better chance for proper assistance and humanitarian aid. 

Reyma is a light-complected Black woman in her early forties with long curly brown hair and glasses.  She is wearing a dress with a water colored pattern.

Reyma McCoy Hyten

Reyma McCoy Hyten, the first Black woman to ever serve as the US Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner for the Administration on Disabilities, is now devoting her full time and attention to supporting the creation of just and verdant communities for all in the US- and beyond. She was an Antibigotry Convening Fellow with the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University and is a past recipient of a 2019 AT&T Humanity of Connection award.  Her work has been featured in Vice, TIME, The Guardian, and USA Today. After a twenty-year career as a helping professional, her vocation has shifted from serving marginalized people to addressing, through her signature approach to identifying and confronting the root causes of oppression, how systems create marginalization in the first place.

Biracial person with curly black hair is smiling for the camera. She has black-rimmed glasses and is wearing a blue, flowered romper. Valerie is seated in a coffee shop, backs of patrons visible behind her.

Valerie Novack

Valerie Novack (she/her) is a disability policy researcher focusing on inclusive infrastructure and emergency management practices. She focuses on integrating the expertise of lived experience and grassroots efforts of marginalized peoples into policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels. Valerie started in a Center for Independent Living before becoming a 2019 Portlight Fellow focusing on legislative solutions to inaccessible emergency response practices in the United States and the founding Board Chair of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. She continues to work towards a more inclusive environment with work in the areas of public health, housing, transportation, and social participation for people with disabilities.  Novack has a bachelor’s degree in disability studies and urban planning from the University of Toledo and a master’s degree in disaster preparedness and emergency management from Arkansas State University. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Utah State University.

Katherine, a cis-gendered light-skinned Latina woman with long brown wavy hair and glasses, smiling at the camera.

Katherine Perez

Katherine Perez’s sense of disability justice formed at a young age as she is both an individual with psychiatric disabilities and a sister to someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Katherine’s professional life has been dedicated to working with the disability community.  Currently, she is the Executive Director at The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation where she organized the first law fellowship specifically for disabled college students interested in the law with the objective to increase the pipeline of disabled attorneys and judges.  Katherine is a member of the California Bar, sits on a number of boards including Disability Rights California’s board of directors, and is a PhD candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her research applies a critical race and disability studies lens to immigration and criminal laws that impact people with disabilities.

Looking Ahead

“Disability-Forward Housing Future – A Needs Definition and Case for Impact” will work to fill critical gaps in understanding the current housing needs of people with disabilities. The first phase of the research will be released in late Fall 2022. Stay tuned!