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Community Living Initiative


In June 2009 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Community Living Initiative (CLI) to promote Federal partnerships that advance the directive of the Olmstead decision. The 1999 Olmstead decision declared that the institutional isolation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The Initiative develops and implements innovative strategies that increase opportunities for Americans with disabilities and older adults to enjoy meaningful community living. 

In her statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius highlighted the importance of creating new partnerships to end injustice.  As a step toward promoting new partnerships, she established a Coordinating Council to guide the work of the CLI. The Coordinating Council is led by the Director of the Office on Disability (OD), Henry Claypool in conjunction with the Assistant Secretary on Aging, Kathy Greenlee.  In addition to OD and the Administration on Aging (AoA), the Council includes the following agencies from across HHS:

  • Administration on Children and Families (ACF)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  • Indian Health Services (IHS)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
  • Office of Civil Rights  (OCR)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) statute signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 expands the scope of the CLI and opportunities available to states to promote and support community living for people with disabilities.  This expanded role deepens the focus on the relationship between home and community-based services and accessible, affordable medical services.

Goals and Objectives of the CLI

The goals and objectives of the CLI are to ensure that:

  • Long-Term Services and Supports Are Person-Driven and Culturally Competent:  Offered services and supports afford older people, and people with disabilities, and/or chronic illness the opportunity to:
    • Decide where and with whom they live
    • Have control over the services they receive and who provides the services
    • Work and earn money  
    • Choose friends and supports to help them participate in community life
    • Receive information and services that take into account their cultural and linguistic needs.
  • Long-Term Services and Supports Are Inclusive: Offered services and supports encourage and support people’s preferences regarding where they want to live with access to a full array of quality services and supports in the community.
  • Long-Term Services and Supports Are Sustainable and Efficient: Offered programs achieve economy and efficiency by coordinating and managing a package of services that are appropriate for the beneficiary and paid for by the appropriate party. 
  • Long-Term Services and Supports Are Coordinated and Transparent: Offered programs provide coordinated services from various funding streams to provide a package of helpful supports. Uses current health information technology to make information available and easy-to-find for consumers, providers and payers.

CLI Working Groups 

The following working groups carry out the overall goals of the Community Living Initiative. These working groups are addressing barriers that prevent Americans with disabilities and older adults from enjoying meaningful lives as part of their community.

  • The Services Group coordinates and oversees the progress and implementation of existing programs to ensure that they benefit people with disabilities and older Americans.  Members of this group identify gaps in health and support services, and develop and implement quality improvement strategies. 
  • The Housing Group identifies ways to create more affordable and accessible housing opportunities for people with disabilities and older people. While building a strong working partnership between HUD and HHS, the Group promotes greater coordination at state and local levels across human services and housing agencies.
  • The Workforce Group explores ways to better support both paid and unpaid caregivers. The group is also considering solutions to recruitment and retention challenges related to the expansion of community-based services.
  • The Data and Quality Group evaluates available data sources on services and supports for people with disabilities of all ages. Members identify gaps in these data sources, and develop recommendations to improve data collection.
  • The Communications Strategy Group develops ways to promote two-way engagement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the community regarding our cross-agency collaboration to promote community living for persons with disabilities. Members use communication strategies to inform federal, state, and local networks about the initiative and its progress. This includes communication about relevant provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which expands access to the services and supports that persons with disabilities need to live independently in their communities.  In turn this workgroup also obtains feedback from the community regarding the effectiveness of the initiative.

CLI Activities 

Many activities across the Department are advancing the goals of the CLI.  In this section you’ll find progress reports on the activities and events of the CLI.  

Contact Us

The success of the Community Living Initiative depends on hearing real life examples of how the system can better serve real people.  We welcome and appreciate comments and recommendations sent to  Thank you for helping us in this vital effort.

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