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House Passes Reforms to the HUD Section 811 Program

September 18, 2008

On September 17, the House unanimously passed legislation to spur investment in permanent supportive housing for non-elderly adults with severe disabilities, including severe mental illness.  The bill, known as the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2008 (HR 5772), was introduced by Congressman Chris Murphy (D- CT) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R – IL).  NAMI is extremely grateful for their leadership, as well as House Finance Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) is moving this legislation forward. 

HR 5772 makes important and significant changes and improvements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program.  The bill is named in honor of the late Frank Melville, a longtime member of NAMI Connecticut, and the first board President of the Melville Charitable Trust – a leading force in promoting supportive housing for people with severe disabilities.  HR 5772 now moves on to the Senate.  Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is planning to introduce the Senate version very soon.

Read NAMI’s letter of support for HR 5772.

Background on HR 5772

The HUD Section 811 program is the only federal housing program solely dedicated to assisting the lowest income people with serious and long-term disabilities to live independently in the community by providing integrated affordable rental housing linked with voluntary services and supports.

This essential legislation will help address the enormous and unrelenting housing crisis faced by millions of extremely low income people with disabilities and will spur the creation of thousands of new 811 units every year by:

  • Authorizing a new Section 811 Demonstration Program that fulfills the promise of true community integration as envisioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Enacting long over-due reforms and improvements to the existing Section 811 production program essential for the program’s long-term viability.

Recent CCD Housing Task Force/TAC studies document that people with serious and long term disabilities – including the vast majority of the four million non-elderly adults living on federal Supplemental Security Income of approximately $637 per month – have the greatest unmet need for housing assistance in the United States.  Current federal, state and local efforts to achieve the promise of community integration for people with disabilities, reduce unnecessary and expensive institutionalization, and assist aging parents who have adult children with disabilities still living at home are completely stalled because of the critical shortage of affordable and accessible housing, particularly the long-term housing operating subsidy provided by the Section 811 program. Important Medicaid reforms to expand self-directed services and promote rehabilitation and recovery for people with disabilities are also stymied because people with SSI-level incomes cannot afford modest rental housing in any community in the United States.

HR 5772 would provide states and localities with a new infusion of critically needed Section 811 capital and project-based rent subsidy funding designed to invigorate and sustain the systematic creation of thousands of new permanent supportive housing units every year through partnerships with state housing finance agencies, county and local governments, and non-profit housing providers.

More information on this important legislation is available here.

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