To make home ownership a reality for people with disabilities

People who live in their own homes experience greater levels of choice, satisfaction, and well-being

Historically, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have had few choices about where and with whom they lived. In the 1960s, nearly 200,000 people lived in large institutions while those who remained with their families received few if any supports. Thankfully, this has changed.

Cliff Poetz photo Cliff Poetz

ICI Community Liason

Poetz, a Community Liaison at the Research and Training Center on Community Living and a veteran disability rights activist, was placed in a Minneapolis institution as a young adult. His rural hometown offered no educational or vocational services for people with disabilities. In 1970, Poetz gained attention when he spoke out publicly against use of the word “retarded.” His commitment to and drive towards more inclusive living options led to speaking engagements with disability advocacy organizations nationally In 1973, Sen. Edward Kennedy asked Poetz to provide testimony at a hearing on the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. He was the first person with an intellectual disability to testify before Congress.

Learn more about what states are doing to provide residential services to people with intellectual  disabilities

Cliff as a young man standing in front of Portland Residence in Minneapolis, MN
Cliff Poetz in his early 20s standing in front of the Portland Residence in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Poetz moved from a 100-person institution into subsidized housing. His move to more independent living parallelled research and advocacy efforts to develop less restrictive community living options for people with disabilities. Through his leadership, Poetz helped shape legislation and policies that eventually led to the closure of Minnesota’s institutions.

“For me it means independence and being able to live in the community. And it costs less money long term to support people who live independently.”

In 2010, Poetz purchased a condominium in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. “It feels good to have my own place and come and go as I please. A lot of people don’t have this yet, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to do.”

Photo of Cliff standing outside of his building

Contact Information

Institute on Community Integration

102 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-624-6300 | F: 612-624-9344

Connect on Social Media