Thursday, May 30, 2013

People on SSI can't afford housing

This is from a press release from the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD):

The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force have released a study, Priced Out in 2012, which demonstrates that the national average rent for a modestly priced one-bedroom apartment
is greater than the entire Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment of a person with a disability. The study sheds light on the serious problems experienced by our nation’s most vulnerable citizens – extremely low-income people with significant and long-term disabilities.

The Study – Priced Out in 2012 – compares the monthly SSI payments [Supplemental Security Income is provided to people who have a very low or otherwise non-existent income and are not able to work] received by more than 4.8 million non-elderly Americans with disabilities to the Fair Market Rents for modest efficiency and one-bedroom apartments in housing markets across the country. The Fair Market Rent for rental housing is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to HUD, rent is affordable when it is no more than 30 percent of income. SSI is a federal program that provides income to people with significant and long-term disabilities who are unable to work and have no other source of income and virtually no assets. Priced Out in 2012 reveals that as a national average, people with disabilities receiving SSI needed to pay 104 percent of their income to rent a one-bedroom unit priced at the Fair Market Rent.

“Nowhere in the United States can people with disabilities receiving SSI afford a safe, decent place to live,” stated Kevin Martone, Executive Director for TAC. “Yet taxpayer resources are spent exponentially on the costs associated with institutionalization and homelessness when more cost effective, proven solutions exist. I encourage our policy makers to consider the magnitude of this crisis and work in a bipartisan fashion to address this form of discrimination against our most vulnerable citizens.”...

The press release goes on to point out that in the midst of a housing crisis, the President's Fiscal Year 2014 budget cuts $40 million from housing subsidies that would allow states to target rental assistance to people moving out of institutional settings and homelessness.

This is a serious crisis, but I take issue with using the housing crisis for people who depend on SSI to further the cause of deinstitutionalization and opposition to congregate care in general. For people with severe developmental disabilities, the expense of housing is only part of the equation for providing appropriate services in all settings whether they are in community homes or institutions.  For my own sons, the cost of care and specialized services is far greater than the cost of housing. Moving people from institutional settings or congregate care does not necessarily save money overall and when it is done against the will of the people affected and their families or it results in a reduction of services and risks to safety, it can be deadly.

But yes, this is a real crisis for the many people who need rent subsidies to help them live a more independent, dignified, and fulfilling life.

Here is the link to the full report.

No comments: