More than one-quarter of all adults in the United States have some type of disability. Individuals with disabilities may have special requirements or need accommodations to live fully and comfortably within their home. According to a recent Freddie Mac survey, renters and homeowners with disabilities are less financially secure than the general population and they struggle with accessibility in their homes.

The financial difference between renters and homeowners with disabilities and the general population is stark:

  • 40% of renters with disabilities report they sometimes don’t have enough money for basics like food and housing — compared to 25% for all renters.
  • 23% of homeowners with disabilities report they sometimes don’t have enough for basics like food and housing — compared to 10% of all homeowners.

In addition, when compared to the general public, renters and homeowners with disabilities report 1.7-times less annual income, which results in these individuals spending a far greater percentage of their incomes on housing costs.

Percent Spending More Than 30% of Income on Housing

  General Public With Disabilities
Owners 25% 59%
Renters 34% 69%

More striking, 40% of renters with disabilities spend more than half of their income on housing. These financial realities pose a challenge to renters with disabilities when it comes to paying for household expenses or when looking to purchase a home.

Rental Accessibility Challenges and Solutions

Accessibility is a concern for renters and owners with disabilities, especially if their disability requires them to have physical accommodations. However, renters are more likely to report concerns with the accessibility of their current residence:

  • 47% of renters with disabilities say their current residence is not at all or minimally accessible for those with special needs and disabilities.
  • 36% of renters with special needs that require accommodation won’t be able to make renovations.

Among those who have mobility difficulties and need special accommodations, respondents identified the top five features that would make it easier to live in their current home:

  • 48%: bathroom aids.
  • 36%: a single-story home.
  • 36%: a home security system.
  • 34%: an entrance without steps.
  • 33%: electrical outlets positioned slightly higher or lower than standard.

Buying Obstacles for Renters with Disabilities

According to survey respondents, 62% of those with disabilities, regardless of whether they currently rent or own, believe they will age in place. However, less than half of renters prefer to stay in their current home, with 52% saying they would prefer to buy a home.

Renters with disabilities report their main obstacles to owning a home:

  • 51% not enough money for a down payment and closing costs.
  • 43% credit issues.
  • 37% not able to pay for additional costs.
  • 36% can’t afford monthly mortgage.
  • 33% high cost of living.

Notably, down payment and closing costs are also the top barriers to homeownership for all potential homebuyers.

All told, the population of renters with disabilities wants to own but faces financial hurdles to achieve it, including spending a large percentage of their annual income on housing. In addition, accessibility of housing is a concern, though some small changes may go a long way to address those issues.

Freddie Mac’s Market Insights team fielded an online survey, in both English and Spanish, September 26-29, 2022. The survey sampled 2,390 U.S. adults with disabilities and 799 caregivers and oversampled for Black and Hispanic homeowners and renters.

Interested in more consumer research? Gain insights into the housing market from surveys of homebuyers, homeowners and renters in Freddie Mac Consumer Research.