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Younger Adults
Group Homes and Assisted Living for the Young Adult

Young adults living with mental illness, substance abuse, a mental deficiency, or a physical limitation may quality for adult social services and support, depending on what state they live in. There is no "assistive living" like we think of for older adults but rather residential treatment centers, group homes, and youth nursing homes run by state social services agencies or by privately owned organizations. Health insurance may cover some of the treatment, if they qualify.

Helping families find residential treatment centers, group homes, and youth nursing homes for young adults are available but require a lot of research to make sure there is a good match between the program's services and the individual's needs.

Living centers and facilities that help young adults include housing, transportation and the use of personal care. Each young adult has different needs at the time of care and in the future after treatment.

Mental Illness

Young Adult Homes
Young Adult Homes

Young adults diagnosed with mental illness usually experience symptom relief by actively participating in treatment plans. Depending on the type of mental illness, the symptom severity, care options and decisions determined by the individual and their health care provider. Combining treatments, services, and supports are effective.

Foremost, the young adult must have a feeling of rightness, a feeling of being "at home" wherever that place ends up being. The person and family can "get" a feeling for the place from speaking with staff and making personal visits.

Things to Consider

Timing or readiness of the young adult - when is the right time to move to a residential treatment center?

Often times the family is first to recognize the need for placement. They express realizations like, "This can't go on, or I can't live this way anymore." They have trouble with setting limits on behavior.

Sometimes the person recognizes that their own efforts aren't working. If the person does not see or admit to it, taking required action falls on the family.

The Psychiatric Challenges

Look for a residential treatment community that concentrates on a mental illness. If it does not specialize, understand this overburden can hinder growth.

Always keep in mind the young adults psychiatric issues and discuss with the person's health care advisor.

Location of the Residence

Families want the facility close to home. Mental Health professionals agree that its best if the facility is not close to them. Being far from home, helps the person make positive changes because for the first time, they are freer to find themselves and come into their own.

Living far from home forces a young adult to leave behind friends who have negative influence and by making a fresh start is the only way it can happen. Moving away and developing new relationships free of undesirable feelings can open the door to growth and recovery.

Features of Residential Care Centers:

  • Clinical residential treatment programs - offers a sense of community that focuses on self-esteem, develop relationships and improve skills. Professional treatment is on-premises.
  • Group residential communities - "group homes," designed in a family setting. It too enhances self-esteem, build skills, develop relationships, and learn to manage symptoms. Clinical treatment is optional and occurs off campus.
  • Apartment-based communities - residents have individual or shared apartments to choose. They participate in therapeutic activities, supportive relationships and treatment.
  • Ranch or Farm-based and work-based residential programs - residents are responsible to participate in daily work programs. It is the key to their growth and recovery. Some offer work opportunities that build marketable skills.


Public or private insurance covers costs of facilities, while others are not. Several do offer financial aid. Contact your state's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness,

You'll find a rich source of referrals to affordable treatment services at:

Mental Health America

Contact your community mental health center for additional resources.

Substance Abuse

Young adults who are chemically dependent require treatment activities based upon their development and gender needs. Researchers find that the young adult brain continues development until approximately age 25. Young adults require increased supervision and monitoring in their daily living activities and oftentimes experience delayed development when chemically dependent.

By receiving treatment focused on developmental needs results in increased engagement and more success in recovery.

For young people who have problems as a result of alcohol, there are a few different types of treatment:

Outpatient and day treatment are available for young people who do not require intensive treatment. A few agencies provide services in local communities helping the young person and their family at home or another convenient location.

Top Support Groups for Substance Abuse and additional information

Federal Drug Abuse Help

Day Programs

Day treatment programs meet Monday through Friday and combine school and group treatment with other young individuals. Most day treatment programs take at least eight weeks and continue for up to one year or more, depending on the program and the young person. The programs offer family counseling and one-on-one counseling.

Withdrawal management happens when a young person needs to get a substance "out of the young adult's body" before entering a treatment program.

Longer Stay Treatment

Residential treatment provides intensive care and treatment for young adults 24 hours a day. These programs last from 21 days to several months.

Recovery homes provide a safe, supportive living environment for people who have made changes in their lives with respect to substance use. Services include counselling, life skills training and help accessing community resources in preparation for independent living.

The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator - Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - to find alcohol and drug abuse treatment or mental health treatment facilities and programs around the country. Or call the National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association offers FREE and confidential information in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline | 1-800-273-TALK (8255) | TTY: 1-800-799-4889. This is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call routes to the nearest crisis center in the national network of more than 150 crisis centers. Or visit website:

Assisted Living for Mentally Challenged

There are several types of residential options for people with mental health or developmental disabilities.

  • Independent Living is available for people who are capable of living on their own or with a roommate. They require some support like assistance with budgets, grocery shopping, meal planning, household maintenance, health and safety monitoring.
  • Supervised Living or Boarding Home is for people needing more than periodic support but not 24-hour supervision and called group living which provides:
  • A boarding home shared by an allocated number of people and owned by an agency. The agency gives routine visits and on-call support. A staff person is available in the home during certain times of the day. The residents depend on each other for assistance, help with chores, and role-modeling. The residents pay a flat fee for room and board. Contact your local county Housing Authority for assistance.
  • Alternate Family Living is another option for people with developmental disabilities. The person lives with an individual or family other than their own. This type of living arrangement is available only to Medicaid Waiver recipients.
  • Group homes provide 24 hour personal care to people with a developmental disability. Group homes help them develop self-help skills, gain work experience and participate in community activities. The local county Hosing Authority owns and leases the homes. The resident pays the room and board with Social Security income and a Medicaid service called Special Assistance.

Financial Assistance

Financial Aid
Financial Aid

Housing Choice Voucher (commonly known as Section 8) administered by the Housing Authority to help people with limited income pay for rental housing. Section 8 vouchers awards individuals who meet income, credit, and criminal record qualifications. There is no minimum income requirement.

Section 8 vouchers are "rental assistance", meaning the tenant pays part of the rent (usually around 30% of their income) and the Housing Authority pays the rest directly to the landlord. Vouchers apply payment for a conventional rental unit apartment, and townhouse.

Section 8 recipients must find a landlord that will accept a Section 8 voucher and the rent must fall within what HUD has identified as fair market rent. Because it offers personal choice, the Section 8 waiting list is longer than the Public Housing waiting list.

Youth Nursing Homes are for people living with profound disabilities. There are a limited number of nursing homes that offer living and care for children and young adults. Many times the person lives in an adult nursing home to get the care they need.

Funding Options

Funding options are available through state and government agencies and other charitable organizations in the United States:

Children's Services

Department of Health and Human Services

Early Intervention Program - Check with your state for services

Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities - Check with your state for services

Children's Aid Society

Charitable Organizations

The following are charitable organizations that offer funding for the care of disabled children:

Administration for Children and Families

Easter Seals

Kaitlin Marie Bell Foundation - Phone: (302) 629-5493

The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project

United Healthcare Children's Foundation Inc.

Assisted Living for Physically Challenged/Disabled Young Adults

Independent living for a disabled young adult offers room and board, housing, transportation and the use of a personal assistant. There is a variety of housing to choose from when considering assisted living options. Check with Medicaid or a private insurance company to determine best way to fund housing.

Types of Living Arrangements

Subsidized Housing offers additional services to disabled residents. Services are room cleaning, laundry and shopping. Subsidized housing is found within apartment complexes and is available for individuals who have low to moderate incomes. The monthly rent is on a sliding scale. State and federal programs help to subsidize the rent for residents.

Group homes are either private, nonprofit facilities or run by local governments. Privately run group homes do not have government oversight unless they receive funding from the government. A nonprofit or government-run facility will adhere to certain rules and regulations and determine to who receives services.

Boarding Homes provides care for individuals who cannot live alone but they aren't ready for a nursing home. This home provides bathing, assistance with dressing, housekeeping, meals and transportation. Depending upon location, Medicaid covers some expenses. State and federal programs help to subsidize the rent for residents.

Accessory Dwelling Units Accessory dwelling units - also referred to as accessory apartments, second units, or granny flats. Accessory dwelling units are additional living quarters on single-family lots that are independent of the primary dwelling unit. The separate living spaces have a kitchen and bathroom, and either attached or detached from the main residence.

Tips for choosing a residence and home

Choosing a residence for a person living with mental illness, substance abuse, a mental deficiency, or a physical disability, is a big responsibility. There are things of concern. It is important for families to learn as much as they can and then speak with an administrator at length about expectations and needs before committing. Do not hurry the decision process.

Here's what to consider in a decision:

  • Is the facility clean and odorless?
  • Does the furniture look clean and gently used?
  • Do the residents look clean and groomed?
  • Are the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, and guest room clean and organized?
  • How does administration handle health concerns? Is someone on-site and who administers medicine and attend to urgent medical needs?
  • Do residents interact with family? Are they encouraged to keep in contact? Who assists the residents in keeping in contact?
  • How are employees selected? Are they checked for criminal records? What is the facility's policy of hiring someone to work in any capacity if they have a criminal record?
  • What type of training have employees received?
  • What are the activities and do employees engage with the residents, or are most of the residents alone?
  • Always visit the facility or home more than once and make several unannounced visits at different hours during the day and evening.

Contact ARC - Leader in Disability Rights and the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families..

Other Resources:

To find out more about group homes, resident homes or nursing homes for the disabled, contact the following organizations in your state or locality:

State Department of Health and Human Services

Division of Developmental Disabilities

State Human Rights Committee

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.