Housing for people with a learning disability or autistic people

Housing arrangements for people with a learning disability and autistic people have come a long way since the 1960s, when people were housed in institutions that kept them apart from the rest of society. This is a result of national government and local authorities working together with people with a learning disability and their families to move towards a system founded on the principle of choice and control, personalised services and independent living.

With support, people with a learning disability and autistic people can most often find a place to call home by renting or buy housing in the same way as other people, or they can move into to specialist housing with care and support, like supported living or shared lives, when more support is needed. Sometimes people decide to continue live with family members. The key point is that where people live should be their choice. If they lack capacity advocacy support may be needed to help clarify what is in the best interests of the person.

There is a great deal that local councils alongside partners can do to support people to achieve their goals. Where the person lives, who they live with, the design of their home and how they are supported (including in an environment that they are comfortable with) can have a significant impact on wellbeing and behaviour.

Shared home ownership won’t be right for everyone, but we do know that it can work well for some people who may have very specific housing requirements. We know, for example, that individuals with complex needs often require tailored solutions that will minimise the triggers for distressed behaviour, in some cases with significant adaptations and/or modifications, and that location and environment are especially important in achieving sustainable housing solutions for people.

Below we have collected a range of resources to help councils transform the local housing offer for people with a learning disability or autistic people.

Case studies

A strategic assessment of the accommodation with support needs for people with a learning disability, autism and mental health conditions 2020-2030 Sheffield, Doncaster, and Rotherham Transforming Care Partnership 2021


  • LGA: A place I call home: responding to Winterbourne View Must Know Adult Social Care
  • Building the right home: Guidance for commissioners of health and care services for children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism who display behaviour that challenges. Building the right home is issued by NHS England, the LGA and ADASS as part of the Transforming Care Programme.
  • Brick by Brick NHS England: Resources to support mental health hospital-to-home discharge planning for autistic people and people with a learning disability – protocol document and housing needs assessment templates.  
  • LGA and ADASS Home ownership for people with long-term; disabilities (HOLD) Factbook: This factbook is about the HOLD shared ownership scheme and was developed to support those professionals who are working with people with a learning disability, autism or both as part of the Transforming Care programme. However, shared home ownership can be a practical option for a much wider range of people; this guide is therefore relevant to other professionals too. Home ownership under the HOLD scheme enables the individual and their family to select a property from the open market, within their budget, just like everyone else who is looking to buy a property. This gives them a much better opportunity to choose where they live and the kind of property they will be living in, coupled with the security of tenure that only home ownership delivers.
  • Housing Guide – Learning Disability England: Created and published by Learning Disability England, in partnership with NHS England, and co-produced with people with lived experience: Housing Guide – Learning Disability England.
  • Specialised supported housing: guidance for local government and NHS commissioners: This is LGA commissioned guidance for local government and NHS commissioners about a category of supported housing referred to as ‘Specialised Supported Housing’ (SSH), particularly lease-based models of SSH.
  • Housing and Learning Disability: Transforming Care and Support: Housing LIN curates dedicated pages on its website covering improving housing choice, housing quality, transforming care and support and funding opportunities. 
  • Housing Lin: Supporting people with learning disabilities to rent their own place: This research project is trying to understand the ways that people with learning disabilities who are on the ‘edges’ of social care can be better supported to access and enjoy living in their own tenancies in the community. 
  • Housing and Care: Good Practice guide 2023: The South West Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Housing Learning & Improvement Network (Housing LIN) have joined together to produce an accessible and practical resource that supports councils, with their local partners, to plan for and deliver the range of housing and care options needed by older people and working age adults with care/support needs.