Do You Want to Create a Community Like Main Street?*

For some, housing for people with disabilities implies only physical accessibility, but at Main Street we believe that is only the tip of the iceberg. The Main Street model also emphasizes affordability, inclusion of people with and without disabilities and extensive opportunities for community connection. While we believe these should be the norms in housing development, there are many financial and governmental obstacles that hinder efforts to create such communities. Main Street is determined to make the process easier. We invite those who are interested in creating a community like Main Street to explore the resources below.

* For those who are looking for housing or housing supports for a person with a disability in Maryland, please visit Maryland Inclusive Housing

Research & Evaluation

Market Research

Market research is a critical first step in guiding the development of any housing project. This includes gathering statistics about the specific needs that exist in your community and talking to people with disabilities and their families about both wants and needs.

Maryland State Statistics

In the State of Maryland, 20% of the population is living with a disability.

The unemployment and underemployment rates for people with a disability are far higher than for those without a disability. According to 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only 17.9% of people with a disability were employed, compared to 61.8% for those without a disability.

The result is that almost a quarter of Maryland’s citizens who live with a disability are far more likely to have extremely-low income and cannot afford to rent units priced for those with income at 30% of the area median income.


Main Street’s Research & Evaluation Efforts

In addition to the importance of initial market research, Main Street believes that ongoing data collection is essential to guide a project’s development, understand its impact and support ongoing improvement. Main Street has developed important partnerships to support efforts in this area, and encourages other projects to seek similar opportunities.

University of Maryland

Main Street’s research partnership with the University of Maryland has demonstrated improved quality of life for residents with and without disabilities and their families. Our research results may be useful to others seeking to demonstrate the value of inclusive, affordable housing, and to highlight factors that significantly contribute to the quality of life.

Sharp Insight

Main Street partnered with a private evaluation firm, Sharp Insight, to create an evaluation plan and logic model of desired outcomes for the Main Street organization and membership. Main Street’s ongoing data collection guides decision-making and supports improvement of our processes and programs.

Reports from First Place

First Place-Phoenix is a residential development and transition academy that has spearheaded studies aimed at expanding housing options for people with neurodiversities. Details about their work and findings are available here.

Research from The Kelsey and the Urban Institute

The Kelsey and Urban Institute conducted a national needs assessment that quantifies the number of disabled people facing housing insecurity due to barriers including lack of affordability, accessibility and supportive services. The results of the research, released in October 2022, describe the current characteristics and living situations of people with disabilities, as well as challenges they face in accessing federal housing assistance and other support programs. Get details about this study from The Kelsey and the Urban Institute.

Main Street’s Building Inclusivity Conference

Building InclusivityIn November 2021, Main Street hosted its first Building Inclusivity Conference to share the Main Street model and nuts and bolts of its development, as well as to highlight other models that share our principles of affordability and inclusivity. To purchase a video link to Main Street’s conference presentations regarding how to build affordable, inclusive and community-minded projects, please visit this link.

“By far, one of the best, most informative conferences I’ve ever been to! The takeaways I’ve learned in just one day will have a major impact on the communities we serve now and long into the future.”
– Conference Attendee

Conference Attendee

“This was probably the most useful conference I have been to. I came to the conference with only an idea and a desire. This conference gave me direction and a plan to move forward.”
– Conference Attendee

Conference Attendee

Presentations About Main Street’s Development & Operations

The following video presentations highlight different aspects of Main Street’s development and operations including:

Additional information about Main Street’s model is available on these pages: What is Main Street?, How are we doing this?, Videos and In the News.

Webinar hosted by The Brookings Institution
With Main Street Founder Jillian Copeland
Affordable Housing for Special-Needs Adults

(July 2020)

Consulting with Main Street

We’d love to work with you!

Main Street offers consulting services for projects at various stages of development. Our three areas of expertise are: 1) structure and systems, 2) building intentional communities and fostering independence and 3) nonprofit management.

Learn More

Other Inclusive, Affordable Models

When it comes to disability-forward housing, one size does not fit all individuals or all localities. At Main Street, we support development of a variety of models based on local needs and possibilities. The following is a sampling of new models from across the U.S. that incorporate our foundational principles of affordability and inclusivity.



In Development:

The Kelsey
Our Home Inclusive Community Collaborative
Patuxent Commons

In Operation:

Our Stomping Ground

Advocacy Priorities

Policy changes are needed at local, state and federal levels to make it easier to create affordable communities for people of all abilities and to make it easier for people with disabilities to access housing of their choice.

Federal Policy

The federal government has a particularly critical role to play. We, alongside The Kelsey, ask for the following federal policy changes and encourage others to advocate for these changes:

  • More Funding and Flexibility for Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • More Funding and  Guidance for HUD Section 811 Program
  • Strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program
  • Increasing Equitable Transit-Oriented Development
  • Adding Incentives to Funding Criteria for New Affordable Housing
  • More Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services

Details about these policy asks are available here.

State Policy in Maryland

At the state level, alongside Maryland Inclusive Housing Corporation, Main Street supports the advocacy and funding priorities outlined here.