Federal assistance provided to the poorest disabled Americans is less than sufficient, leaving some disabled Americans unable to afford a place to live, a new study reveals.
The average rental price for a modest one-bedroom apartment in every U.S. housing market area exceeds the Supplemental Security Income that the poorest people with disabilities receive from the government, according to a May study from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force and the Technical Assistance Collaborative. SSI is a federal program that provides funds to disabled people who have "little or no income."
"People with disabilities are really facing a form of discrimination because they can't afford housing in every state in the country,” said Kevin Martone, executive director for TAC.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers housing to be affordable if Fair Market Rent is less than or equal to 30 percent of one's income. Yet, the average SSI recipient would need to pay 104 percent of his or her annual income to pay for a HUD approved housing unit, according to the study.
In 2012, the average annual income of the 4.8 million non-elderly Americans who received SSI payments was $8,714, nearly 22 percent below the federal poverty level. The average rent across the country for an affordable one-bedroom rental unit was $758 last year.
Martone said housing policy and disability policy are not aligned, often leaving the most vulnerable Americans with disabilities behind. Without affordable options for housing, the disabled often find themselves living in institutional care or psychiatric hospitals. Providing more rental assistance for the disabled would be more affordable than this alternative, he added.
The problem highlighted in the CCD's report may only get worse due to across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Budget cuts could cause 15,000 low-income elderly and disabled people living in rural areas to lose their housing subsidies under the U.S. Department Of Agriculture's rural rental assistance program.