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December 20, 2002

HUD Releases 2002 Funds For Homeless Assistance Programs and Disability Rental Vouchers

On December 17, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the award of a record $1.1 billion in homeless assistance funding to states and localities as part of the agency’s Homeless “Continuum of Care.” These funds were appropriated by Congress as part of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and are directed at the state and level for permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter grants and services for homeless individuals and families. Among the permanent supportive housing programs funded under McKinney-Vento are key resources directed to homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders such as Shelter Plus Care and the SHP supportive housing program.

At the state and local level, homeless funds are allocated through the “Continuum of Care” planning process which is designed to help states and communities prioritize needs of their homeless population. HUD then awards funds to these “Continuum of Care” applicants. A list of the 3,000 awardees, projects and programs that will be funded in the coming year can be viewed at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/homeless/budget/2002/index.cfm and then clicking on an individual state to view the PDF file containing the list of grantees.

Additional background information on both the 2002 “Continuum of Care” awards and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and its important role as a resource in serving homeless individuals with severe mental illness is available at: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html

Section 8 Vouchers for People With Disabilities Announced In addition to awarding funds for homeless assistance, HUD has also released more than $90 million in funding for rental vouchers targeted solely to non- elderly people with disabilities -- including adults with severe mental illnesses. These FY 2002 funding awards announced by HUD come in the form of rent subsidies that are administered by local housing authorities (and in some cases, non-profit disability organizations. For each of these programs, housing authorities (and in some cases state housing agencies and non-profits) apply directly to HUD in order access funds, and then administer assistance at the local level. Interested individual consumers, family members, case managers and others should therefore refer to these referenced awardee lists to determine which local programs in a given state or community have received funding in 2002.

Below is description of the three separate allocations of tenant-based rental vouchers for people with disabilities. Section 811 Mainstream Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities The Section 811 Mainstream program consists of tenant-based rental vouchers that are set-aside specifically for people with disabilities. Since 1997, Congress has allowed HUD to transfer up to 25 percent of the overall Section 811 program away from capital advances/project-based assistance, to tenant- based vouchers. Rental vouchers enable recipients to get apartments by paying generally no more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent - the voucher from HUD pays the remainder.

Traditionally, only housing authorities have been able to apply directly to HUD to receive and administer vouchers at the local level - eligible low-income households (including individuals) apply to housing authorities to get vouchers. However, in the Section 811 Mainstream voucher program non-profit disability organizations have been able to apply, both this year and last year. NAMI pushed hard to ensure that non-profit disability groups can apply - both to ensure that adults with severe mental illnesses are not discriminated against, and to keep 811 as a program focused on non-profits that have a better understanding of the housing and community support needs of people with severe disabilities.

For 2002, HUD awarded just over $50 million in funds for the Section 811 Mainstream program. Several non-profit organizations with expertise in serving adults with severe mental illnesses received Section 811 Mainstream funding in 2002, including the Mental Health Resources, Inc. of Minnesota and Transitional Services of Long Island, New York. A full list of the 2002 Section 811 Mainstream awardees can be viewed in PDF format at: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html

2. Section 8 Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Related to Certain Developments ("Certain Developments") In the early 1990s, Congress passed legislation which permits HUD-assisted housing providers to limit or exclude people with disabilities from living in certain subsidized housing developments by designating that housing as "elderly only." These housing developments contain virtually all of the studio and one bedroom federally subsidized housing units in the country, and represent over two-thirds of the federally subsidized housing resources that low-income people with disabilities were eligible to access prior to the passage of this legislation. Non-elderly individuals with severe mental illnesses have been particularly disadvantaged in many communities across the country as private owners of assisted housing have changed tenant selection policies to exclude people with disabilities.

Since 1997, Congress has funded tenant-based vouchers to make up the loss of assisted housing for which non-elderly people with disabilities could apply. For FY 2002, HUD has allocated $20 million for the "Certain Development" pot of vouchers. Unlike the Section 811 Mainstream voucher program, only PHAs are able to apply for this "Certain Development" allocation of Section 8 vouchers for people with disabilities. Because HUD and applicant PHAs have very limited capacity to track which private owners of assisted housing have shifted their tenant selection policies since 1993 to disfavor non-elderly people with disabilities, the agency has experienced difficulties in allocating funds for these vouchers. Note - for three years, HUD has failed to conduct a congressionally mandated inventory of which properties have shifted to "elderly only".

As a result, HUD has been able to fund all eligible applications from PHAs for this funding. Thus, the chances of a PHA being awarded this funding are very good. Because of the extremely low number of PHA applicants, each year there has been money left over after all of the qualifying applications were awarded, signaling to the disability community that more pressure needs to be put on local PHAs to educate them about this funding opportunity. The money that is left in this "pot" after awards have been made is then rolled into the Section 811 Mainstream Program, described above, but is only available to PHA applicants as one year grants, and not non-profit disability organizations. This is another reason why non-profit disability organizations who are interested in administering Section 811 Mainstream Vouchers may choose to engage in a partnership with a PHA, since PHAs have a better chance of being funded.

A full list of the PHAs awarded funds under the "Certain Developments" allocation of Section 8 vouchers for people with disabilities for 2002 can be viewed in PDF format at: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html

Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities in Support of Designated Public Housing Plans ("Designated Housing" Vouchers) Since 1992, federal government policy has permitted PHAs to implement "elderly only" housing policies in federal public housing units. Once these housing developments are designated "elderly only," people with disabilities under age 62 are no longer eligible to move in, or are only eligible for a small set- aside of units in each project.

PHAs seeking to designate units (or entire buildings) as "elderly only" must submit Allocation Plans to HUD. As a part of the Allocation Plan, PHAs must assure HUD that they will provide other resources for people with disabilities (including individuals with severe mental illnesses) to make up for this loss of affordable housing. PHAs have the choice of using existing resources to assist people with disabilities who were negatively impacted by "elderly only" housing policies, or they can apply for these Section 8 vouchers in order to increase the housing opportunities for people with disabilities in the community.

A complete list of PHAs receiving awards under the "Designated Housing" voucher program in PDF format can be viewed by visiting www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html.

NAMI would like to gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Ann O'Hara and Emily Miller at the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) in Boston, MA for compiling a comprehensive analysis of the 2002 funding awards for these disability housing programs. NAMI would also like to thank the Melville Charitable Trust for supporting the collaboration between NAMI and the Technical Assistance Collaborative on affordable housing issues affecting people with severe mental illnesses and other disabilities.


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