Study Finds Extreme Housing Affordability Crisis for People with Disabilities

Across the United States, people with disabilities with the lowest incomes faced an extreme housing affordability crisis as rents for moderately priced studio and one-bedroom apartments soared above their entire monthly income. The national average rent for a one-bedroom unit climbed to $749 per month in 2008 – higher than $667, the average monthly income of over 4 million people with disabilities.
These shocking statistics are some of the important findings included in Priced Out in 2008 – a study of the severe housing affordability problems of people with disabilities who must survive on incomes far below the federal poverty line.  The study compares the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments of people with serious and long-term disabilities to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rents for modestly priced rental units.  Priced Out is published every two years by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force to shine a spotlight on our nation’s most compelling – and least understood – housing affordability crisis.
In 2008, 219 housing market areas across 41 states had modest one-bedroom rents that exceeded 100 percent of monthly SSI, including 25 communities with rents over 150 percent. Between 2006-2008, the number of market areas with modest rents higher than SSI rose from 164 to 219 – a 34 percent increase.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in Priced Out in 2008 is that since 1998 when the first edition of Priced Out was developed, the amount of monthly SSI income needed to rent a modest one-bedroom unit has risen an astonishing 62 percent from 69 percent of SSI in 1998 to 112.1 percent of SSI in 2008.

As stated by Congressman Barney Frank in the Foreword to Priced Out, “The lack of adequate housing is a serious obstacle to a decent life for anyone. It can be particularly troublesome for people dealing with disabilities, for whom the physical and emotional stress of a lack of decent shelter are added burdens for people already doing their best to deal with difficulty.”
While some progress has been made by Federal officials responding to creating additional affordable housing resources, a bolder action is essential to inaugurate a new era in housing policy that places the housing needs of people with disabilities within the mainstream of national housing policy.

TAC and the CCD Housing Task Force urge the federal government to take the following actions:

Enact Section 811 legislation that will create at least 5,000 new units of permanent supportive housing each year.

Provide 10,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers for People with Disabilities in HUD’s annual budget.

Support the Administration’s proposal to appropriate at least $1 billion in funding for the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Remove Barriers to Permanent Supportive Housing in the LIHTC Program.

Facilitate a Coordinated Disability Housing Policy Across the Federal Government.

Reinvigorate Fair Housing Enforcement.
By implementing these recommendations, the federal government will send a powerful message of inclusion to state and local communities, along with the housing resources necessary to finally begin to achieve the vision of community integration for people with disabilities first articulated almost 20 years ago through the ADA.
A copy of Priced Out in 2008 can be found online at http://www.tacinc.org/pubs/pricedout/2008.html. For more information about Priced Out, please contact Emily Cooper at ecooper@tacinc.org or (617) 266-5657 x123.