People with disabilities and their families share the values and goals of being part of the community and living as independently as possible. The cornerstone of independence for disabled people is their own home, whether rented or owned. Housing has become increasingly challenging for people with disabilities in the United States.
People with disabilities sometimes face difficulty finding affordable housing, but it can be especially difficult for low-income people. The Annual Homeless Assessment Report reveals that every year, about half a million homeless single adults and heads of households report having disabilities. As many homeless individuals lack access to resources, they cannot accurately report their disability status, so this number is likely to be much higher.
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Importance of Emergency Housing Assistance for Disabled People
Housing is becoming more and more difficult for people with disabilities. People at risk of becoming homeless or institutionalized lack affordable, accessible housing in their communities. Disabled people across the United States are facing an acute affordability crisis.
Nearly 4.8 million disabled people rely on monthly financial assistance from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which averages $8,230 annually (effective from January 2022). This amount is so low that disabled people on social security cannot access rental housing.
Elderly caregivers often care for people with disabilities. As these caregivers age, many disabled adult children are at risk of homelessness.
Finding homes with the right accessibility features is very difficult and, at times, extremely unaffordable. The Fair Housing Act was enacted to eliminate housing discrimination by ethnicity, disability, sex, or religion.
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Some Important Statistics
The following statistics show the gravity of the situation of homeless, disabled people.
- Adults with disabilities are twice as poor (27%) than adults with no disability (12%).
- According to the US Census Bureau, around 12.8 million disabled people lived in poverty in 2018. This number accounts for approximately 28.3% of all disabled people in the United States.
- According to the HUD, nearly 4.6 million disabled people received emergency housing assistance in 2018.
Emergency Housing Assistance Programs for Disabled People
In conjunction with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal government has many housing assistance programs that provide safe and affordable housing for low-income households with disabled individuals. These programs also help to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned buildings in neighborhoods, which can hurt the quality of life in the area.
Rehabilitating existing housing units also helps to create jobs and is essential for helping to alleviate poverty and homelessness in the United States. The following programs provide emergency housing assistance for disabled people.
Section 811 is a HUD-administered program that creates housing opportunities for very low-income disabled people, not just the elderly. The objective of the Section 811 program is to give disabled people a chance to live in subsidized rental units and access supporting services with dignity and independence.
This program has the mandate to provide housing assistance in one of the following two ways:
- Interest-free advancement of capital and subsidies to developers that build not-for-profit housing units for the disabled. Under this type of assistance, households must have income under 50% of the AMI with one disabled adult member.
- Offering project-based rental assistance to PHAs of different states. Families with at least one adult disabled family member are eligible for this assistance if their income is under 30% of AMI.
You can find a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) that is published in the Federal Register on an annual basis. The NOFA is also posted on the Grants.gov website. If you need assistance or more information regarding the Section 811 program, you can visit the HUD website or get in touch with them by calling 202-708-1112.
Throughout the United States, the Section 8 housing voucher program is the most critical housing assistance for low-income households with disabled members. Providing rent subsidies through vouchers is intended to help low-income families, seniors, and the disabled. These vouchers can be submitted to landlords by the recipients of these subsidies, who, in turn, submit these vouchers to the relevant public housing authority. The tenants pay the remaining amount of their rent after the deduction of the subsidy amount.
On a national scale, Section 8 vouchers provide housing and rental assistance to over 5 million people and over 2.3 million households each year, out of which one in every three households is headed by a disabled adult. Although having a disabled person within the household is not a prerequisite for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the presence of a disabled person in the household is a point that is considered during the application reviewing process.
You can apply for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program; you'll need to contact your local PHA. Please visit the HUD's website to locate your local PHA or get their contact information.
In 2016, the California Department of Social Services created the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP) to provide housing support to people experiencing homelessness and who are eligible for disability benefits.
HDAP provides financial assistance for housing in the form of the following:
- Temporary shelter
- Rental assistance
- Case management
- Security deposits
- Utility payments
- Moving costs
- Legal services
- Credit Repair
The HDAP is a locally administered program. You can contact your County Point of Contact for more information about eligibility and details on the program or get in touch with the CDSS Housing and Homelessness Division.
Vouchers for the non-elderly disabled (NED) are very similar to housing choice vouchers; the major difference is that NED vouchers are given to families in which a parent, spouse, or head of the household is disabled. The local PHA processes applications for these vouchers.
There are no differences between NED and HCV vouchers other than the target population, which falls under the same federal regulations. HUD regulations require that NED vouchers only be used by disability-qualified households. HUD has its specific definition of disability.
NED vouchers are special-purpose vouchers that are awarded to non-elderly disabled people who fall under one of the two following categories:
- Category 1 Vouchers: These vouchers for non-elderly disabled people provide them with access to affordable private housing.
- Category 2 Vouchers: These vouchers are for non-elderly disabled people presently living in nursing homes or other healthcare facilities and transitioning back to the community.
Providing housing assistance for low-income people and their families living with HIV/AIDS is the purpose of the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. The grant providers assist NGOs and PHAs in providing housing assistance and supportive services to eligible individuals and households.
The HOPWA program assists them with transitional housing services, long-term and short-term rental assistance, and temporary shelter. The HOPWA Program grants to local governments, state governments, and non-profits for projects to provide housing relief to low-income families with HIV/AIDS patients.
Veterans with disabilities and their families experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their homes may be eligible for VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. In addition to VA services, the VASH program provides housing assistance through HUD's Homeless Veterans Program.
Over 100,000 vouchers have been distributed to veterans as of 2021. HUD provides rental aid vouchers through state public housing authorities. You can get more information by visiting your state's PHA.
Visit the rest of the Gov-Relations to read articles about government and private financial assistance. For single mothers looking to improve their financial and living situation, check our article on hardship grants for single mothers.