SSI Recipients Face Housing Crisis: 2013 News

  • The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Washington-based Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force (CCD) released this month Priced Out in 2012, their biennial national rental housing study documenting the severity of the housing affordability crisis experienced by the lowest-income people with disabilities.

     

    According to Priced Out in 2012:

     

    The average annual income of a single individual receiving SSI payments was $8,714-equal to only 19.2 percent of the national median income for a one-person household and almost 22 percent below the 2012 federal poverty level.

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    The national average rent for a modest one-bedroom rental unit was $758, equal to 104 percent of the national average monthly income of a one-person SSI household.

     

    This finding confirms that in 2012, it was virtually impossible for a single adult receiving SSI to obtain decent and safe housing in the community unless they had some type of permanent rental subsidy.

     

    In 17 states and the District of Columbia, statewide average one-bedroom rents were higher than monthly SSI payments including: Hawaii (182% of the total SSI monthly income), District of Columbia (171%) Maryland (150%), New Jersey (146%), New York (133%), Virginia (129%), Delaware (124%), Massachusetts (121%), California (120%), Nevada (117%), New Hampshire (115%),, Florida (113%), Connecticut (111%), Illinois (104%), Rhode Island (104%), Arizona (101%), Vermont (101%) and Washington  (101%).

     

    In 2012, approximately 4.8 million adults with disabilities aged 18-64 received income from the SSI program.  Unless they had permanent rental assistance, or were living with other household members who had higher incomes, virtually everyone in this group had extreme housing affordability problems.

     

    With incomes equal to 19.2% of Area Median Income (AMI) one-person SSI households fall within HUD's Extremely Low Income (ELI) category, which includes any household with an income at or below 30% of AMI.

     

    Thirty-one percent of all ELI households are headed by a person with a disability.  Forty-one percent of all households that include an adult disabled household member are ELI households.

     

    ACS data from 2009 indicates that more than 856,000 people with disabilities were living in Non-institutional Group Quarters, which included homeless shelters, group homes and other congregate facilities.

     

    Approximately 35,000 people with mental illness reside in state mental health institutions.

     

    More than 400,000 non-elderly people with disabilities reside in nursing homes.

     

    State governments were wrestled to the mat to provide housing opportunities after the Supreme Court ruling in Olmstead vs. L.C. in June 1999 legally enforced the use of the least restrictive setting to house individuals in the community instead of confining them to institutions.

     

    According to Priced Out in 2012:

     

    Closing a state-financed institutional 'bed" can save up to $100,000 or more, after factoring in the cost of the rent subsidy and supportive services.  The cost of providing long-term care in the community, including a housing subsidy, can be 50% less than the cost of a Medicaid-financed nursing home bed.

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    Numerous studies have proved that providing permanent supportive housing for a chronically homeless person is much more cost effective than paying for repeated visits to emergency rooms, hospitalizations, and the cost of emergency shelter beds.

     

    What can be done to change this crisis scenario?

     

    Expand the New Section 811 PRA Demonstration.

     

    HUD's Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Demonstration program, authorized by Congress in 2010, has exponentially increased the number of new Section 811 units created in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 without any increase in appropriations.

     

    HUD awarded PRA Demonstration grants to 13 states in February of 2012, which will result in the creation of 3,520 new Section 811 PRA units.

     

    The Section 811 PRA Demonstration is an example of a cost-effective federal policy that can successfully address the extreme housing affordability gap SSI recipients experience.

     

    The Section 811 PRA Demonstration needs to be expanded to every state.  The cost of the average PRA unit may be substantially less than the cost of the average Housing Choice Voucher-a significant outcome given current pressures on discretionary spending.

     

    The other option is to provide funding for full utilization of HUD's Mainstream Housing Program.  TAC and  CCD recommend that the federal government provide sufficient funding to fully utilize the 4.6 million subsidies include within HUD's mainstream rent subsidy program.

     

    Lastly:

     

    Expand housing opportunities for SSI recipients through the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF)

     

    Congress authorized the NHTF in 2008 as the first permanent federal housing program that is: (1) not subject to annual discretionary appropriations; and (2) targeted to ELI households.  Congress is considering several proposals that would create a permanent source of funding for the NHTF.

     

    TAC and CCD lobby Congress to enact legislation to provide these federal housing funding resources as soon as possible.

     

    We must join with TAC and CCD in lobbying the government to create and fund an increase in permanent affordable housing for SSI recipients.

     

    I was mighty ticked off as I read the Introduction and Key Findings of Priced Out in 2012.

     

    I will write in the next SharePost about my own experiences with housing options, the plight of others I see in our community, and a no-punches-barred approach that I take and might brand me as a radical.  As you'll see, I have a different kind of solution that nobody talks about.

Published On: June 21, 2013