Most of us have had a roommate or two in the past. Some of us have had two roommates at one time. It is the easiest and most common way to obtain affordable housing. These living arrangements are typical and don’t require approval from local municipalities; however most local governments, townships, and cities have a definition of family for their area which may be impacted by these situations in some cases.
If a small group of people living together fit within this definition of family, then special licensing is not necessary. It is always nice to notify the township or city of the home you are about to create.
If two people that will not have direct support staff decide to be roommates Township codes and their definition of family are of little concern. But when a group of three or four unrelated people decide to combine their resources to rent, buy, or lease a residence some research and communication with the local governing agencies may be necessary.
Consider the situation of the three sets of parents that pooled their money together to put a large down payment on a home so their adult sons could afford the monthly costs with their SSI. These three sons also required 24 hour staffing to meet their daily care needs. This home has quite a bit more traffic coming in and out of the driveway each day than the other homes in the neighborhood. If a neighbor would complain about the traffic at the home, inquiry may lead to the local government being alerted to the home’s specific circumstances and it could be determined that it does not meet the definition of family for the area. The neighbor would have a valid and defendable argument. This is when one would definitely want to check their community’s definition of family and possibly have a conversation with the local government.
Below is an example of one of those Codes:
(1) An individual or group of two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption, together with foster children or servants of the principal occupants, with not more than one additional unrelated person, who are domiciled together as a single, domestic, housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit; or 2) A collective number of individuals living together in one dwelling unit, whose relationship is of a continuing, non-transient, domestic character, and who are cooking and living as a single, nonprofit housekeeping unit. This definition shall not include any society, club, fraternity, sorority, association, lodge, coterie, organization or group of students or other individuals whose domestic relationship is of a transitory or seasonal nature or for an anticipated limited duration of a school term or other similar determinable period.
Comparing this definition of family with the three people living together with 24 hours staff, the three individuals with disabilities are considered a family.
While most neighbors are natural to welcoming, there are a few people out there that may need more encouraging. Those people are referred as NIMBY’s. “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) are people that oppose home settings for people with disabilities in their neighborhoods.