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Thank you so much for the information. Given the current availability of housing for special needs adults, I’m encouraged that parents have a number of options.
I visited the Frederick County Zoning and Permit Office. They were very nice and were able to answer some of my questions which I will share.
Yes, a home must be ADA compliant to become a licensed group home. From my understanding, doorways must be sufficient width (36″) for wheelchairs (even when there are no residents in wheelchairs). All homes built after 2010 must have sprinkler systems. I’m reasonably certain an older home must be retrofitted with a sprinkler system to meet the current fire protection standards. Showers must be also accessible — a walk in type, again sufficient for a wheelchair. Shower controls must be reachable for the person in the wheelchair. Stairs must have either a ramp (short steps) or a stair lift, or the home must have an elevator to provide access to living areas. A multi story home, I suspect, would be okay without a lift if the upstairs bedroom is used only by staff, for example.
Rezoning for a group home can be difficult, depending on the current zoning. Agricultural land should not be as difficult as higher density residential, but must follow the rezoning process nonetheless which I believe would include a public notice and a meeting. As for service providers, I believe they have less to gain from having a single client in a home. I believe it makes sense to go with a single provider, particularly for those requiring only 1:3 client to staff ratio.
Finally, I believe it would be very difficult for the average parent to create a group home for self directed clients. In this situation, I believe it would become necessary for the owners/parents/etc. to become licensed service providers.