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The following is the press release that provides an overview as well as the call for 150,000 new rent subsidies.
Across the United States in 2006, 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 for the first time. The national average rent for a one-bedroom unit climbed to $715 per month and the studio/efficiency unit rent to $633 per month in 2006 â€“ both higher than the entire monthly income of people with disabilities who rely on the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
These shocking statistics are the most important findings included in Priced Out in 2006 â€“ a new 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 SSI monthly income of people with serious and long-term disabilities to local U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rents for modestly priced rental units in 2006. 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 â€“ and least understood â€“ housing affordability crisis.
In 2006, the national average income of a person with a disability receiving SSI was $632 per month. Priced Out in 2006 reveals that rents for modest one-bedroom units were equal to 113.1 percent of monthly SSI payments, and studio/efficiency rents were 100.1 percent of SSI during 2006 â€“ shutting people with disabilities out of the rental market in every city, town and rural area of the country.
In the Columbia , Maryland housing market area the federal Fair Market Rent for a modestly priced one-bedroom apartment was 193.2 percent of monthly SSI income â€“ the highest level in the nation. In New Orleans , modest studio/efficiency apartments soared to $755 a month â€“ a 45 percent increase since Hurricane Katrina. In the rural areas of Nevada , the cost of a one-bedroom unit priced at the HUD Fair Market Rent was $603 â€“ consuming the entire monthly income of a single individual receiving SSI in that state.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in Priced Out in 2006 is the precipitous and relentless decline in housing affordability for SSI recipients since 1998 when the first edition of Priced Out was developed. During the past eight years, as housing programs that can help the lowest-income people with disabilities were slashed, modest one-bedroom rents rose an astonishing 64 percent compared to SSI â€“ from 69 percent to 113.1 percent of SSI. During that time, SSI income dropped 26 percent compared to the one-person median income. The root cause of the nation’s most severe â€“ and most hidden â€“ housing crisis is clearly revealed in the painful statistics included in the 2006 edition of Priced Out .
A bold response from the federal government is essential to reverse these harmful policies and initiate a systematic approach to provide people with disabilities the housing assistance they need and deserve. With this edition of Priced Out , the CCD and TAC call on the federal government to commit to a multi-year plan to create a minimum of 150,000 new federal rent subsidies for people with disabilities with the lowest incomes.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, nationally renowned disability rights advocate for over 50 years, has graciously contributed to Priced Out in 2006 with a Foreword endorsing the TAC/CCD Housing Task Force goal of 150,000 new rent subsidies. “Housing is the key for individuals with disabilities,” stated Mrs. Shriver. “It is the necessary foundation piece that leads to education, employment, and active participation in communities. It is where families are nourished, strengthened, and loved. The United States needs to step up and fulfill its duty to provide all citizens with the tools they need to achieve greatness.”
While bold in comparison to current federal policies and funding levels, the CCD/TAC plan is based on reasonable production and appropriation levels that received bi-partisan support just a few years ago when rental housing for the most vulnerable Americans was considered an important federal policy objective.
By simply committing to provide 10,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers and 5,000 new Section 811 rent subsidies each year for the next ten years, the federal government can affirm its commitment to help the most vulnerable people with disabilities live successful lives in the community. Failure to do so will mean that community integration mandates so clearly articulated in the Americans with Disabilities Act are merely words backed up by the empty promises of federal officials.