May 4, 2006
Senate Passes Landrieu Amendment Adding Emergency Funding for Supportive Housing for Hurricane Evacuees With Mental Illness and Other Disabilities
Earlier today the Senate cleared an emergency supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year. The $106 billion measure adds funding for both military operations and relief and rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast. The bill (HR 4939) includes $209 million in additional funding for rent subsidies targeted to rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. While these housing funds are desperately needed, it is unclear whether or not resources can be effectively targeted to evacuees with disabilities (including serious mental illness) seeking to return to their communities. Many of these evacuees are still in temporary or substandard housing 9 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.
In order to ensure that these additional housing funds included in the Senate supplemental spending bill reach those most in need, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was able to include an amendment directing that $100 million of this $202 million allocation be directed to project-based rent subsidies tied to the development of new permanent supportive housing units across the Gulf Coast.
As project-based rent subsidies, there would be greater accountability to ensure that the rent subsidies are tied to the additional Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) that Congress allocated for parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi last year. This would further allow new housing financed by these tax credits to target individuals living on SSI benefits. The Landrieu Amendment also provides federal funding for a critical piece of the housing and redevelopment plans established by both the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans. Finally, the amendment set forth a priority on supplemental housing funds serving those who were displaced from HUD assisted housing and are now at risk of homelessness.
NAMI would like to thank Senator Landrieu for bringing forward this important measure. NAMI is also grateful to key leaders in Louisiana and across the nation that have worked tirelessly to ensure that permanent supportive housing for evacuees with mental illness and other disabilities are a part of the long-term recovery and reconstruction in the Gulf Coast region.
The Landrieu Amendment will:
- Result in an additional 4,500 units of new permanent supportive housing
Will NOT add additional funding to the overall bill and simply redirects existing resources in the bill for hurricane redevelopment,
- Allow the additional Low-Income Housing Tax Credits authorized by Congress for the Gulf Coast to reach the most vulnerable – evacuees with severe disabilities who have no income or are living on very limited disability benefits,
- Meet a critical need – permanent supportive housing – identified in both the Louisiana and New Orleans redevelopment plans.
The House already passed its version of the FY 2007 supplemental appropriations bill (HR 4939) WITHOUT including specific funding for permanent supportive housing across the Gulf Coast. As a result, it will be critically important to get the House and the Bush Administration to accept the Senate provision.