Rental Assistance Needed to Build a Recovery That Works for People With Disabilities

By Anna Bailey: For Complete Post, Click Here…

As Congress considers the Administration’s recovery proposals, lawmakers have a historic opportunity to address on a long-term basis homelessness and housing instability among people with disabilities by significantly expanding the Housing Choice Voucher program to more households. Ultimately, housing vouchers should be available to everyone who is eligible, as President Biden proposed during his presidential campaign. At a minimum, recovery legislation should make a sizeable down payment toward this goal.

More than 4 million people with disabilities are in families that pay more than half their incomes in rent and utilities. (See figure.) At the same time, over 110,000 people with disabilities are experiencing chronic homelessness (long-term or repeated homelessness). All of that undermines access to health care for people with disabilities, and it forces people to live in congregate or institutional settings that undermine their independence and, in some cases, endanger their health.

Structural barriers to employment, education, and supportive services contribute to high poverty rates for people with disabilities and make it harder for many of them to afford housing. Systemic racism compounds these barriers for people of color. Over 4 million people with disabilities receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but its benefits are modest — the basic monthly SSI benefit in 2021 is $794 for an individual — and, in many places, they aren’t enough alone to cover rent even if people allocate every dollar of their benefits to pay rent. Many people with disabilities who qualify for SSI don’t receive benefits because they have not successfully completed the arduous application process. And many people with disabilities who struggle to afford rent don’t meet the strict medical or income eligibility criteria for SSI.

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