Living independently and participating in one’s community are priorities for many people. In many regions across the United States, there are programs that support and enable people with disabilities and older adults to live where they choose and with whom they choose and to participate fully in their communities. Tremendous progress has been made. However, in many cases, the programs themselves – and access to them – vary not only between states but also within states. Many programs are small, and even when they prove to be successful they are still not scaled up to meet the needs of the many people who would benefit from them. The challenges can include insufficient workforce, insufficient funding, limited business acumen skills, and lack of evidence demonstrating effectiveness or value.

To get a better understanding of the policies needed to maximize independence and support community living and of the research needed to support implementation of those policies, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a public workshop in October 2015. Participants explored policies in place that promote independence and community living for older adults and people with physical disabilities, and identified policies and gaps in policies that can be barriers to independence and the research needed to support changing those policies. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.