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HUD opens housing vouchers for people with disabilities

Nearly 80,000 new Section 8 housing vouchers are being made available for low-income people who have disabilities, or families with a disabled member, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development announced recently. HUD is giving an additional edge to people who are leaving nursing homes and institutions, in wake of the 1999 Supreme Court Olmstead decision. These Section 8 vouchers are competitive -- to get them, local housing authorities must file an application before Feb. 28 -- which is an extension of the original Jan. 29 deadline -- in response to HUD's "Notice of Funding Availability".

Any housing authority promising that "15 percent or more of the vouchers they are requesting will be used for persons with disabilities and families with a member who has a disability" will get an automatic 15 points in the competition; another 5 points will be assigned if the public housing authority "provides no less than 3% of the requested section 8 vouchers to persons who are covered by a Home and Community-Based Service Waiver (1915(c) Medicaid waiver)."

"This means that a housing authority can use their application to assist persons to leave nursing facilities and other institutions and to avoid being at risk of being unnecessarily institutionalized," said disability rights attorney Steve Gold. HUD notes that the effort is to assist people "in preserving their independence and ties to family and friends."

The HUD funding "presents a fantastic opportunity to assist us in implementing the Olmstead Supreme Court decision and to put a focus on inaccessible housing for low-income persons with disabilities," said Gold. "It's a major opportunity to educate the press and the community about the double discrimination faced by low-income persons with disabilities."

In its 1999 OImstead decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said that people who have disabilities must receive services in "the most integrated setting" and called for states to give people housing options in the community rather than solely in nursing homes and other institutions.

HUD's decision to award funds based on a priority of housing people with disabilities is a result of "ADAPT's efforts with President Clinton, HUD and Secretary Cuomo, as well as the efforts of many other disability advocacy groups," said Gold. ADAPT, American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, is a grassroots activist disability organization.

In addition to these new vouchers, HUD's Access Housing 2000 initiative targets 2000 vouchers over 5 years solely for people moving out of nursing homes.

Download a PDF file of the Federal Register announcement











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