Land use, zoning & housing for people with disabilities

Participants at Oregon Housing Conference October 15 2018

Land use laws are a major barrier to supportive housing and treatment of people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Oregon has a long history of successfully preventing local communities from blocking the creation of housing for people with mental illnesses, treatment centers for people in recovery, and other housing and treatment resources for people with disabilities. Earlier this year, we stopped two such “not in my backyard’ efforts in Coos Bay and Washington County.

Our Deputy Legal Director Tom Stenson presented at the October 15th Oregon Housing Conference in Portland on how some people try to use zoning laws to discriminate against people with disabilities.

Tom stenson presenting at the Oregon Housing Conference.

Local Rules are not the Final Word

The big take-away from his presentation?

Local rules aren’t the final word when treatment and housing for people with disabilities are opposed at the local level.

Importance of Supportive Housing

Why is it so important to bring supportive housing to communities? For many reasons. Here are two:

• Community-based services are the gold standard for success

• Community-based treatment is cheaper than jail, psychiatric hospitals, prison


  • The government can’t impose conditions on people with disabilities they don’t impose on others.
  • The government can’t rely on stereotypes and generalizations of people with disabilities.
  • The government must offer reasonable accommodations and modifications to permit a land use by people with disabilities.

You can view Tom’s presentation here: “You CAN Fight City Hall: Land Use Laws, Zoning Rules, and Housing for People with Disabilities.”  

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