Monthly Supplemental Security Income payments do not cover the costs of rental housing, much less other essential spending, in almost every housing market in the country, a new report asserts.
Individuals on SSI, the federal government’s primary program for low-income, non-elderly people with disabilities, receive on average a monthly payment of about $750 each month. Nationwide, the average one-bedroom apartment costs $780 per month and a studio costs $674 to rent.
“This housing affordability crisis deprives hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities of a basic human need: a place of their own to call home,” the report states, which was released earlier this month. “Because of the disparity between SSI income and rental housing costs, non-elderly adults with significant disabilities in our nation are often forced to choose between homelessness or placement in a segregated and restrictive institutional setting such as an adult care home, nursing home, or other congregate setting.”
Every other year since 1999, the Technical Assistance Collaborative and Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities have produced a new report, highlighting the challenges faced by SSI recipients in obtaining affordable housing. The latest report, “Priced Out in 2014,” provides data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia on rental costs of one-bedroom and studio units.
As discussed in the report, the federal government has scaled back a variety of affordable housing programs during the past two decades, largely replacing direct housing assistance with vouchers and other programs that target low-income people, but not necessarily those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Accordingly, most states have long-waiting lists of people desperately in need of housing financial assistance.
To help resolve these shortfalls, the report calls for an expansion of federal housing assistance. Of particular interest for the TAC and CCD is the Section 811 program, which was approved by Congress in 2010. Under this program, HUD has so far provided nearly $250 million in funds to state housing agencies to assist people with disabilities defined by the HUD as “extremely low income,” meaning their incomes are less than 30 percent of the median income in the HUD-defined housing area.
Other initiatives called for in the report included increased funding for the Housing Choice Vouchers program, whose funding was cut during the sequestration, and the National Housing Trust Fund, created by Congress in 2008.
“People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to live independently in the community, though as highlighted by Priced Out in 2014, many who rely on SSI face severe obstacles to that opportunity,” the Arc wrote in a blog post. “While progress has been made over the last several years with a new, integrated housing model under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 811 program, our nation still has a long way to go.
“Having a place to call home is a basic human right.”