Position of the disability community:
The lack of affordable and accessible housing leaves people with disabilities vulnerable to homelessness, institutionalization, and incarceration. Currently, the need for affordable, accessible, and integrated housing for people with disabilities far outstrips the supply. Rental subsidies play a key role in making such housing more available, including state and local subsidies as well as federal subsidies such as those provided through the Section 811 supportive housing program and the Section 8 voucher program. Funding must be directed to increase housing opportunities for people with disabilities in community settings.
If public officials want the disability vote:
Support affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities. This housing should be in mainstream buildings rather than in segregated buildings for people with disabilities.
Housing affordability continues to be a monumental issue for people with disabilities. The 2016 Priced Out report found that the 4.9 million non-institutionalized people with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) make only $8,995 per year, which is lower than most of the income requirements to rent a one room apartment. In addition to federal and state rental subsidies, low-income housing tax credits have been another means of expanding affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 would expand opportunities to develop housing with low-income housing tax credits. Under this program, states receive credits they allocate to entities developing affordable housing units for low-income families or individuals, including people with disabilities. Units developed with low-income housing tax credits should be in integrated buildings. The current White House budget proposal includes a cut of $8.8 billion to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 811 program that provides affordable and accessible housing in integrated settings. The disability community is committed to protecting this funding.
Support enforcement of the Fair Housing Amendments Act to combat discrimination against people with disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities continue to face discrimination in housing. For example, people with disabilities are frequently excluded from housing based on the need for a reasonable accommodation such as an assistance animal or transfer to an accessible unit. The National Fair Housing Alliance reported in 2016, that 55% of all federal, state, and local housing discrimination complaints received were on the basis of disability. Increased enforcement and funding is needed to combat discrimination and to increase opportunities for community living.
In January 2018, HUD announced that it was suspending until 2020 or later the obligations of HUD grantees including public housing authorities, states, and local governments to submit fair housing assessments under HUD’s regulation implementing the Fair Housing Act’s mandate to “affirmatively further fair housing.” The “affirmatively furthering fair housing” regulation required HUD grantees to take steps to ensure that housing segregation – including the needless institutionalization of people with disabilities – was addressed as part of the fair housing planning done by HUD grantees. A lawsuit has been filed challenging HUD’s suspension of the regulation.
Support enforcement by HUD of the integration mandate and Olmstead.
HUD issued a guidance in 2013 on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goal of Olmstead. It described how HUD-financed housing programs must comply with the integration mandate of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, requiring them to administer services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate. HUD stated that “communities that have historically relied heavily on institutional settings and housing built exclusively or primarily for individuals with disabilities” must take into account the need for more integrated housing options scattered throughout the community.
Support the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act of 2018.
The Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act of 2018 (H.R. 6509) would advance the rights of people with disabilities to have full community integration by requiring newly constructed single-family houses and townhouses that are built with federal assistance to include a minimum standard of visitability. Visitability is a design approach to allow access for people with mobility disabilities (the ability to get into the house, to pass through interior doorways, and enter a bathroom to use the toilet).
Oppose attempts to increase rent in federally subsidized housing and impose work requirements for benefits.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson recently unveiled “The Making Affordable Housing Work Act,” a legislative proposal that would impose large, harmful rent increases on nearly all families across many essential HUD affordable housing programs – including people with disabilities and their families. His proposal also makes it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) is promoting a draft bill with similarities to Carson’s proposal that also needs to be opposed because of the negative impact it would have on the lives of people with disabilities. The bill titled the “Promoting Resident Opportunity through Rent Reform Act” would make it easier for housing authorities to raise rents on the most vulnerable Americans and impose work requirements.
Support improving accessibility in publicly funded housing units.
A study on the characteristics and unmet housing program needs of disabled HUD-assisted households found that significant numbers of people with disabilities living in public assistance housing did not meet their accessibility needs. 70% of residents did not receive a requested disability-related reasonable accommodation, and 90% of public housing residents with disabilities did not live in accessible units.
Oppose cuts to housing vouchers.
The White House budget proposal includes deep cuts in rental assistance for families, including thousands of people with disabilities. Eliminating vouchers will increase homelessness and hardship for people with disabilities.
Support keeping language in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mission statement calling for “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
There are recent reports that HUD is considering removing language from its mission statement that signals strong support for equality for people with disabilities. As the federal agency that enforces the Fair Housing Act, HUD must ensure communities across the nation are free from discrimination. Removing language from its mission statement would send the message that inclusion of people with disabilities is not a priority.
Additional Information and Resources:
- Olmstead enforcement guidance – US Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Housing Issues for People with Disabilities – The Arc
- Housing Task Force – Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
- Housing Subcommittee – National Council on Independent Living
- NCIL Position Paper: Housing – National Council on Independent Living
- Priced Out Report – Technical Assistance Collaborative & Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities
- Trump Plan Would Raise Rents on Working Families, Elderly, People With Disabilities – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- House Finance Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Rent Reform – National Low Income Housing Coalition
- Cutting Housing Benefits Would Increase Homelessness and Housing Poverty – National Low Income Housing Coalition
- What Fair Housing Means for People with Disabilities – Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
- A Place of My Own – Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
- Public Policy Agenda for the 115th Congress – The Arc
The Housing section of the 2018 REV UP Issues Guide was published on June 25, 2018 and last updated on September 20, 2018. AAPD will do it’s best to keep this guide up-to-date as Executive and Legislative changes happen; however, we recommend double-checking Congress.gov, WhiteHouse.gov, or Google for the latest updates.