Senate Committee Approves 811 Reform

Menendez bill approved unanimously
Needs full Senate approval this year

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On Thursday, September 30, 2010 the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted unanimously to support the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 (S.1481) – important legislation to reform and reinvigorate HUD’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities.

S.1481 authorizes an innovative 811 Demonstration program which promotes integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities and could create 3,500-5,000 or more new affordable and accessible units every year without increasing Section 811 appropriations. During recent years, the program has produced fewer than 1,000 units annually.

This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by both Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and Johanns (R-NE).

Senator Menendez

“People with disabilities often struggle to access affordable housing that allows them to live independently, and that problem is worse in tough economic times,” said Menendez. “The demand for this is huge at a time when more than 1.3 million Americans with disabilities spend more than 50% of their income on rent. This bill will insure that people with disabilities can keep a roof over their heads. Today’s important step brings us closer to increasing the availability of that badly-needed housing for people with disabilities, and we are working to make it law.”

“Affordable housing is crucial to the independence of our fellow Americans with disabilities,” Senator Johanns said. “Exploring ways to redesign housing options available to them without adding to the budget deficit is part of our responsibility to create the most efficient and effective federal programs. I look forward to this legislation being approved by the full Senate.”

Next, the legislation comes up for a vote in the full Senate; ideally this will happen through unanimous consent. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill by a strong bipartisan vote of 357-51 on July 22, 2009.