Accessible, Affordable, Integrated Housing
A housing plan to free people with disabilities from unwanted institutional placement developed by the ADAPT Community
Created January 14, 2009, last updated August 26, 2018
People with Disabilities across the United States are forced into institutions, like nursing facilities, due to the lack of housing that meets their needs for permanence, accessibility, affordability, and integration, let alone consumer control. In many states, housing is the number one reason that people with disabilities, of all ages, are forced into institutions. Simply put, people with disabilities face a HOUSING CRISIS. We have little housing that is accessible, even less that is also affordable, and still less that is also integrated; now there are moves to make most, if not all, truly affordable housing tied to services — as if we are slipping back to the bad old days.
ADAPT demands that Congress and the President work together to implement the following solutions as part of a comprehensive strategy of ending the housing crisis that forces hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities into institutions.
People with significant disabilities often cannot find housing that allows them to simply get in the front door. There are few requirements to build apartments and homes that are accessible. What requirements there are have been poorly enforced. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is rarely heeded by housing authorities and developers, and rarely enforced or even mentioned by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Fair Housing Amendments Act impact is growing, though slowly; but again, enforcement is spotty. Many thousands of units that should have been accessible are not, due to lack of enforcement. HUD has done better on Fair Housing enforcement in recent years, so there is some hope this will improve but only if the need for enforcement is understood and supported by both disability advocates and housing providers. Both need education on these laws.
Additionally, people with disabilities want and deserve accessible housing that is permanent, affordable, accessible, and integrated. People don’t want temporary or transitional accessible housing provided in some situations, nor do they want housing tied to services.
In order to provide enough housing to meet the need for permanent, affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities currently living in the community and the hundreds of thousands who want to leave institutions, ADAPT demands that:
- HUD continue to increase enforcement of existing Section 504 Accessibility requirements, Fair Housing Amendments Act requirements, and use Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
- Public Housing Authorities, Housing Finance Agencies, Fair Housing Enforcement entities and private entities all increase enforcement of these laws and affirmatively further Fair Housing.
- HUD at least double the requirements of Section 504 for 10 years to make up for past non-compliance: 10% of units to be built as mobility-disability accessible and 4% as sensory-disability accessible. After this initial 10 years, HUD, housing authorities, finance agencies and private entities should encourage all district offices to look at the American Community Survey to determine the number of people with disabilities in their locations. Then they should increase the percent of newly built accessible units to at least meet 5 percent, or if their community’s percentage is higher than 5%, to meet that need.
- Congress and the President develop permanent funding for a “Barrier Elimination Trust Fund” for accessibility modifications for people transitioning out of facilities and those at risk of going into facilities. This fund shall be $20,000,000 available to be spent annually, plus an increase tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Fines for failure to comply with Section 504 and Fair Housing Amendments Act requirements could also be used to supplement this trust fund.
- Congress and the President enact the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act (H.R. 3260 in the 114th Congress).
- HUD must end the practice of funding townhomes. Townhomes are inaccessible by design. Our Government should not be in the business of funding any kind of project that absolutely discriminates against any population.
- HUD must provide a national database of all accessible housing. This database should be updated quarterly.
People with disabilities frequently live on very-low, fixed incomes. Only about 30% of people with disabilities are employed; the majority of them work low wage jobs. People with significant disabilities have even fewer opportunities for employment, especially employment that can pay for their needs. People with disabilities are unable to afford much of the housing that is considered “affordable” by non-disabled standards. Many people with disabilities people live well below poverty, at 18% and 15% of Area Median Income (AMI).
People trapped in institutions receive a monthly “allowance” of approximately $30-$60 to pay for all expenses. This makes it impossible to save enough for a security deposit or to buy the most basic necessities to move into the community, like furniture, curtains, bedding or cookware.
In order to make housing affordable to people with disabilities moving out or trying to stay out of institutions, ADAPT demands that:
- HUD provide a national database of all affordable housing and another database of all the housing developed using federal dollars. These databases should be updated quarterly.
- Congress and the President create 10,000 new housing vouchers each year for 10 years and target them to people transitioning out of nursing facilities or other institutions and those at risk of institutionalization. HUD and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) must work together to make sure that these vouchers go to people, regardless of disability-type or age, living in nursing facilities and other institutions. The Money Follows the Person Demonstration program demonstrated the effectiveness of this plan but was too limited, highly bureaucratic, and now is ending. We can’t let a successful idea like this end.
- HUD establish policies and procedures to ensure that all these vouchers are tracked and continue to be targeted to people with disabilities when the vouchers (or similar housing subsidies) are returned to the Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) after an individual who has one is no longer eligible or in need of the voucher.
- Congress and the President double the funding for construction of permanent, accessible, affordable, integrated housing with no services attached to the housing. The goal is to end the crisis that people with disabilities of all ages confront when they seek a place to live. The affordability requirement for these new units must be affordable for 99 years or perpetuity.
- The HUD Secretary continue to issue periodic Public and Indian Housing (PIH) directives to PHAs strongly encouraging local preferences in their voucher programs for people trapped in nursing facilities.
- The HUD Secretary continue to issue letters to the state and local housing entities and National Apartment Association to encourage local efforts to promote acceptance of these vouchers. HUD will support idea of a local preference for homeless and they must support this preference for people out of institutions.
- People in nursing homes and other institutions, regardless of disability or age, be nationally recognized as homeless. In memos as far back as 1998, HUD recognized that the “needs of persons with disabilities are not met by beds in nursing homes or other service centered facilities.” Unfortunately, HUD has never acted on this wisdom and people with disabilities who are warehoused in these facilities remain ineligible for various housing priorities and programs available to “homeless” persons. HUD and state and local entities should recognize people with disabilities who are stuck in unwanted institutional placements as homeless, and eligible to access more housing resources at the local level.
- Congress should require that if a state or local housing entity has a homeless preference, they must also have a preference for people coming out of nursing homes and other institutions.
- Mainstream and Fair Share vouchers that were turned into regular Housing Choice vouchers due to poor oversight by HUD and PHAs, be recommitted to people with disabilities. The Fair Share and Mainstream Voucher Programs were created to address the housing needs of very low income people with disabilities (many of whom were turned out of other housing). However, many thousands of these vouchers were lost to us, since they were never tracked and many Housing Authorities gave them to other populations.
- HUD should target resources to people at the lowest income levels and continue to provide vouchers to, and fund housing development for, very low income people with disabilities.
- People in need of subsidize housing services should not have to pay more than 30% of their income for rent. Increasing this required percentage is inhumane.
- Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD) should be used with government run entities only like housing authorities. Stop the privatization pf housing services; privatization is just made for businesses to get rich and threatened and destroy poor people who need these services.
- Congress and HUD need to develop ways to address the hole in funding for affordable housing (such as massively increasing the Housing Trust Fund) that they created when Congress passed the tax reform. This “reform” took away the incentive to invest in affordable housing by in effect removing the value of the housing tax credit program.
From the turn of the century people with disabilities have been viewed as everything from “unfit” to “dangerous” to a “detriment to normal society.” These views directly led to the establishment of our nation’s very long history of government imposed segregation of people with disabilities.
The housing options in this system of imposed segregation are large warehouse-like state operated institutions and smaller institutions, such as group homes. People with disabilities are considered “sick” and in need of treatment to be cured. This perception unfortunately continues today. Housing options for people with disabilities, too frequently resemble medical or treatment centers rather than what most people would call a home.
While service and support agencies and providers work toward a system that supports consumer control and integration for people with disabilities, housing agencies and providers seem to be working in the reverse direction.
Too frequently, housing funding still supports housing that is segregated and institutional, for example, diagnosis-specific projects where only people with a specific type of disability are allowed to live. This is unacceptable, yet the federal government sanctions this terrible discrimination for the “crime” of having a disability. This must stop.
Our people want to live in the community, with their non-disabled peers, not in any of the various forms of “crip ghettos”. In order to accomplish this, ADAPT demands that:
- Congress and the President issue a directive to HUD that at least 100% of all new housing funding must be used in integrated housing.
- Congress and the President issue a directive to HUD that all new 811 building/development must be in integrated settings. Not more than 25% of the units in these projects can be designated for people with disabilities.
- HUD streamline the process for using 811 funding in integrated settings.
- HUD limit the size of “group homes” to no more than four individuals and only allow their development in areas served by public transit. Transit provided by the group home is not enough.
- HUD agree not to fund segregated communities, like “gated” communities, developmental disability ranches or villages, or other “communities” that house only people with disabilities and the staff that support them. “Disability neighborhoods” are not acceptable they are not integrated in the community.
NON-SERVICE CONNECTED HOUSING
ADAPT adamantly supports services and supports for people with disabilities, and has gone to jail fighting for services and supports. However, when these services are linked with housing the outcomes can be very negative. One of the ways segregated housing is maintained is though housing that is connected to services. Sometimes this kind of housing is called “supportive housing”, “permanent supportive housing”, or similar positive sounding names. However, housing that ties services as part of that housing, OR TIES NEED FOR SERVICES OR SUPPORTS AS A QUALIFICATION FOR SUCH HOUSING limits consumer control and integration. Instead, services should be provided separately from the housing; housing should be developed generically and services or supports be brought in on an as-needed and as-wanted basis from independent providers. Housing is not tied up waiting for this or that category of “client”, and people can move in where and when they need to and get the services separately. Providers should not be making decisions and controlling all aspects of the lives of the people they are supposed to be serving. If a person loses their services they shouldn’t have to lose their housing, and vice versa. Thousands upon thousands of people with disabilities have transitioned to this method of housing and services and are successfully living in this way.
ADAPT demands HUD, and those it funds:
- Stop using the term supportive housing, the disabled do not need supportive housing, but can use support services that are not tied to housing.
- Stop doing what is best for providers but do what is best for the disabled community, “Nothing About Us Without Us”.
- Stop giving preference in funding for the lowest-income-housing to projects that tie services to housing, either through program requirements or program qualifications.