Home First

Individuals with disabilities face major barriers to transitioning out of nursing homes and other large institutions to affordable homes in communities of their choice. IFF’s Home First initiative provides an alternative by creating accessible, scattered-site housing specifically for people with a broad range of disabilities.

Where beliefs meet rights

Begun in response to the Supreme Court’s Olmstead Decree, which stated that people with disabilities have the right to live in the least restrictive setting possible, IFF’s Home First initiative creates accessible housing choices for people transitioning from institutions to independent living.

What Home First homes look like

Home First projects are as diverse as the people they serve – from new construction duplexes and flats to rehabbed condos and vintage apartments, in bustling urban centers and quiet suburbs.


How they are funded

Developing these scattered-site, accessible, affordable homes is a resource-intense process — but still beats the cost of long-term institutionalized care. Home First projects leverage an array of funding resources, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, state and local government funds, Federal Home Loan Bank support, donation tax credits, and private corporate and foundation support. Rental assistance and referrals are provided through government and nonprofit partners. Apartments are supported by rental subsidies to ensure they remain affordable.

How they help the community

By focusing projects on foreclosed properties and infill lots, Home First stabilizes neighborhood blocks while stretching scarce resources. Vacant lots and neglected buildings are transformed from eyesores into beautiful homes, proving that affordable neighborhood homes for people with disabilities provides both economic and social returns.


IFF’s Home First program has been recognized by several local and national organizations, including:

  • 2019 – Coalition of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) Program Award
  • 2019 – Community Neighborhood Development Award’s (CNDA) Polk Bros Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award
  • 2019 – Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award from the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition
  • 2019 – Alan J. Rothman Award for Housing Accessibility from the American Institute of Architects and the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • 2019 – Nonprofit Developer of the Year Award from the Cook County Land Bank Authority
  • 2018 – Vision Award from the Urban Land Institute