New Study Finds Disabled Housing Needs Twice as High as HUD Estimates

This important report underscores the urgency necessity of an effective permanent, supportive and affordable housing strategy for persons with disabilities. We strongly encourage you to read the full report. The following is the overview prepared by the Technical Assistance Collaborative. To read the full report – The Hidden Housing Crisis Report – click here. For the supplemental tables click here.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force has released the results of a new study that estimates that 1.2-1.4 million very low income non-elderly disabled households without children had worst case housing needs in 2005. This range is more than twice the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s estimate of 542,000 non-elderly disabled households published in HUD’s most recent worst case housing needs report to Congress, Affordable Housing Needs 2005 (May 2007)

The CCD Housing Task Force study – The Hidden Housing Crisis: Worst Case Housing Needs Among Non-Elderly Adults With Disabilities – analyzed data on the housing of persons with disabilities from the 2005 American Community Survey to estimate worst case needs among non-elderly adult renters with disabilities. Worst case needs, a concept designed to count the number of renters with acute needs for rental housing assistance, are defined as unassisted renters with income below half of their area’s median family income who either pay more than half of their income for housing or live in severely substandard housing.

In a joint statement, the CCD Housing Task Force Co-Chairs (Andrew Sperling, National Alliance on Mental Illness; Liz Savage, The ARC/United Cerebral Palsy; and Kathleen McGinley, National Disability Rights Network) said: “The Hidden Housing Crisis study reveals what disability advocates have long known – that HUD’s recent estimates vastly understate the extent of the acute housing crisis among very low income people with disabilities. HUD’s Worst Case reports acknowledge that American Housing Survey data – the source of HUD’s estimates of worst case housing needs among all household types, including elderly households, families with children, disabled households and other renters – are imperfect for assessing the housing needs of people with disabilities. In the past, several HUD reports attempted to correct for the known undercount of AHS data, but the two most recent reports omitted this essential adjustment. The CCD would like to thank NLIHC for the technical support they provided to make this more complete and accurate estimate possible.”

The study was conducted for the CCD Housing Task Force by Dr. Kathryn P. Nelson, who was the principal author of HUD’s first eight reports to Congress on Worst Case needs. In addition to improving estimates of worst case needs among non-elderly households with disabilities without children, the study found that 0.9-1.0 million families with children with worst case needs in 2005 had non-elderly adults with disabilities in the household. Thus, overall, the study finds that almost half of the nation’s 4.7 million non-elderly households with worst case needs include adults with disabilities. The remaining 1.3 million worst case households have elderly heads or spouses.

Mr. Sperling noted: “This extremely important study, which was funded by the Melville Charitable Trust, does provide a more accurate estimate of worst case housing needs among non-elderly renters with disabilities in 2005. However, because of the definition of worse case needs and the lack of data on the homeless, the study does not include the needs of people with disabilities who are not currently in rental housing, such as people who remain unnecessarily in institutions and nursing homes, or who are homeless. As a result, the total need for housing among the lowest income people with disabilities is likely to be more than double the estimates developed in this new study. The CCD Housing Task Force plans to publish a more comprehensive study later this year that incorporates the needs of very low income non-renters with disabilities as well, including disabled adults now living with elderly parents.”

Over the last several months, CCD has been working with HUD to update numbers of persons with disabilities having worst case needs. CCD recommended that HUD use the two more complete AHS proxies developed in this study to better estimate worst case needs for non-elderly renters with disabilities, both those in families with children and those in households without children. The results of this study also underscore the importance of adjusting AHS estimates to reflect the best available national data on the number of persons with disabilities. More information about this study, including the assumptions and adjustments made to estimate worst case needs from the ACS and other national data sets, is available at the Technical Assistance Collaborative web site.

To read the full report – The Hidden Housing Crisis Report – click here. For the supplemental tables click here.