Bipartisan Senate Bill Introduced to Increase Housing for People With Disabilities

Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) recently introduced legislation that would greatly expand affordable housing options under the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 811 program for people with disabilities.

Among other benefits, the Section 811 program gives people with disabilities housing vouchers that fit their incomes. These vouchers, typically called "Section 8" vouchers, allow people with low incomes to obtain community housing from landlords who meet government qualifications. In most cases, the government issues a Section 8 voucher to a person with low income, and that person uses the voucher to make up the difference between the amount of rent he can afford to pay and the rent charged by his landlord. The amount of the Section 8 payment is based on the recipient's income and fluctuates over time. The Section 811 program is a specific type of Section 8 housing tailored for people with disabilities.

Many people with long-term disabilities often get by only on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. Because these payments are meager, it is almost impossible for recipients to secure their own housing without some kind of government assistance. Section 811 provides a small number of beneficiaries with much-needed housing vouchers.

According to a press release from Sen. Menendez's office, the legislation, known as the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act, would dramatically increase the number of housing vouchers available to people with disabilities. As the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) explained when a similar bill was introduced in the House (HR 1675), the Section 811 program covered only 930 units last year. The new legislation would "fast-track" the creation of thousands of new units that would qualify for Section 811 rentals. Furthermore, the program would create incentives for developers to build housing that truly integrates people with disabilities into their communities.

To read the press release from Sen. Menendez's office, click here.

To read CCD's summary of the legislation, click here.

Article Last Modified: 08/04/2009