Designing people-centered programs that support the goals of the individuals they serve—rather than the assumptions of the designers—is critical if we want participation in programs to truly advance health equity. For people with disabilities, that means high-quality, affordable housing should be paired with voluntary, community-based services that enable them to live successfully and independently in their communities.
One such program is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 811 project-based rental assistance (PRA) program, which provides rent subsidies and voluntary Medicaid-funded services to non-elderly people with disabilities and extremely low-incomes. While efforts have been made to include people with disabilities in research studies focused on programs serving individuals with disabilities, they have often been excluded.
This article, published in HUD’s journal Cityscape, describes the strategies and processes that the Abt study team developed to ensure that individuals with disabilities would be able to participate in the Section 811 program evaluation. The authors also describe the lessons learned from collecting information from residents. These insights may help inform other programs and services that can meaningfully engage people with disabilities in evaluation research.