This announcement by HUD is critically important for NAMI and its allies in the disability community because it is the first time that non-profit disability organizations have been eligible to apply for Section 8 tenant based rent subsidies. During the past three years, HUD has made these funds available only to PHAs through the Section 8 Mainstream Program for People with Disabilities. Unfortunately, only 10% of PHAs were willing to apply. If the PHA refused to apply, disability advocates had no other way to obtain these rent subsidies for people with disabilities in their communities who desperately needed them.
According to the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) published in the Federal Register, in order to be eligible to apply, a nonprofit organization must have the capacity to and/or experience with:
It is important to note that it appears from the NOFA that subsidies for the "mainstream" program may not be restricted to particular disability subpopulations. Thus, interested applicants must certify to HUD that they are able to serve people with any type of disability.
Nonprofit disability organizations (including NAMI affiliates, CMHCs, MHAs and others) and PHAs may each apply for up to 75 vouchers. Applications that meet a basic threshold screening will be put into a lottery for funding. The NOFA encourages and emphasizes the importance of the development of partnerships between PHAs and nonprofit disability organizations where one agency is viewed as being the program administrator by HUD. These partnerships are particularly important given that HUD is permitting only PHAs to apply for additional Mainstream subsidies which may become available as a result of leftover funding from other rental assistance programs for persons with disabilities (see below for further information on these programs).
It is important to note that applications for the "Mainstream" programs are due at HUD by May 7, 1999. Applications for funding will need to include a letter of intent that states the minimum number of subsidies that an applicant will accept, and a narrative that documents the need for these subsidies using data from various sources such as census data, and wait lists. In addition, applications must include a Mainstream Program Operating Plan that describes how the applicant will meet all responsibilities cited above. Since this application is due to HUD by May 7, it is critical that interested nonprofit disability organizations immediately begin to compile the necessary information. NAMI is currently working to get this May 7 deadline extended. At a recent congressional hearing on HUDís FY 2000, Secretary Cuomo has agreed to extend the deadline, but only for an additional 30 days.
For further information, visit the HUD web page at http://www.hud.gov/fundsavl.html or check the Technical Assistance Collaborative (http://www.tacinc.org) and the CCD Housing Task Force (http://www.c-c-d.org) web sites for updates.
OTHER HUD FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESSES AND OTHER DISABILITIES
NAMI advocates should keep in mind that there are other housing funds available for people with disabilities in the HUD budget for this year, including:
HUD announced on February 26, 1999 the availability of $87 million for capital advances for the development of affordable housing for persons with disabilities (including adults with severe mental illnesses). The capital advances may be used to construct, rehabilitate, or acquire structures to be developed into a variety of housing options including small group homes, independent living projects and dwelling units in multifamily housing developments, condominiums, and cooperative housing. Repayment of the capital advance is not required as long as the housing remains available for at least 40 years for occupancy by very low income persons with disabilities. Project-based rental assistance funds are used to cover the difference between the tenantsí contributions toward rent and the cost to operate the project. Nonprofit disability organizations (including NAMI affiliates, CMHCs, MHAs and others) are the only entities eligible to apply for this funding. For further information, visit the HUD web page at http://www.hud.gov/fundsavl.html.
Applications for the Section 811 capital advance, project-based assistance program are due at HUD by May 27, 1999.
On February 26, 1999, HUD announced the availability of $750 million in funding for supportive services, and transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons. The funds available through the McKinney Homeless Assistance can be used under any of three programs that assist in creating and enhancing systems to meet the needs of homeless persons within your community Ė including homeless adults with severe mental illnesses. These three programs are:
Permanent Housing Set-Aside
This yearís Notice of Funding Availability for the McKinney Homeless Assistance Program requires a permanent housing set-aside. In other words, at least 30% of the total funding made available through the McKinney Homeless Assistance programs must be used to fund permanent housing projects for homeless persons, such as Shelter Plus Care, Section 8 Single Room Occupancy Moderate Rehabilitation, and the Supportive Housing Program Ė Permanent Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
To be eligible for this funding, agencies must participate in the development of a local strategic plan, known as the Continuum of Care, that identifies the needs of homeless people in your community and develops strategies to address these needs. To find out more about the Continuum of Care process in your community, contact the Community Planning and Development Office of your local HUD Field Office or visit the HUD web page at http://www.hud.gov/fundsavl.html. Applications from communities for the McKinney homeless assistance grants program are due at by June 2, 1999.
HUD announced on March 8, 1999 the availability of $20 million for 4,200 Section 8 vouchers for non-elderly disabled families (including adults with severe mental illnesses) on wait lists at specific housing developments. These vouchers were made available as an means of compensating for units lost at specific types of housing developments where the owners have decided to restrict occupancy (or portions thereof) to elderly families.
These new Section 8 vouchers will enable non-elderly disabled families, including adults with severe mental illnesses, affected by this loss of housing units to rent affordable housing in the community. Only Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) may apply for funding, and application is limited to a maximum of 200 vouchers. These PHAs must identify in the application the developments that have designated themselves as "elderly only" and provide information about the number of non-elderly disabled families on the wait lists at these developments. For further information, visit the HUD web page at http://www.hud.gov/fundsavl.html and watch the TAC and CCD web pages for funding updates. Applications for these "elderly only" assisted housing designation vouchers are due at HUD by June 30, 1999.
HUD announced on March 8, 1999 the availability of $20 million for 4,200 Section 8 vouchers for non-elderly persons with disabilities. This funding was made available to provide housing assistance to non-elderly disabled families who would have been housed by a PHA if occupancy in the designated public housing developments was not restricted to elderly households. Only PHAs that have developed or plan to develop a HUD-approved Designated Housing Allocation Plan may apply for these subsidies. A Designated Housing Plan is mechanism for allocating units for particular populations, elderly persons for example, at identified PHA public housing developments. For further information, visit the HUD web page at http://www.hud.gov/fundsavl.html and watch the TAC and CCD web pages for funding updates. Applications for these "elderly only" public housing designation vouchers are due at HUD by June 30, 1999.
ACTION REQUESTED: GET INVOLVED WITH LOCAL OFFICIALS TO ENSURE THAT YOUR COMMUNITY GETS THE CHANCE TO COMPETE FOR THESE HOUSING FUNDS
All NAMI leaders are urged to contact local housing officials to ensure that they are aware of the availability of these HUD funds. The applications processes for many of these HUD programs are either restricted to housing authorities, or require input and consent from local housing officials. NAMI advocates interested in increasing housing options for people with severe mental illnesses in their community are also urged to seek out key officials in your local public mental health system, i.e. state mental health commissioner, CMHC director, MHA leadership, local clubhouse or psychosocial rehabilitation agency, etc. These state and local officials are typically responsible for ensuring access to decent safe and affordable housing for the clients they serve. They need to be involved in the process of educating local housing officials and HUD field staff about the growing demand for decent, safe and affordable housing (and the need for housing-related supports and services) for low-income adults with severe mental illnesses. Leaders of local NAMI affiliates are also urged to seek out colleague disability organizations at the community level about partnering in an effort to seek funds directly from HUD, or through a local coalition.
Technical Assistance Available to NAMI Affiliates
Through NAMIís involvement in the CCD Housing Task Force, limited technical assistance is being made available to chapters and affiliates interested in applying directly to HUD for the Section 8 "mainstream" program. However, to receive this technical assistance, a NAMI organization must be a qualified non-profit disability organization, i.e. it must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and have experience administering government housing programs (as specified in the HUD NOFA).
Note, even if your local NAMI organization does not meet this criteria, you can still seek assistance from TAC by reaching out to colleague disability organizations in your area such as the local Arc, UCPA, CMHC, MHA, Easter Seals or independent living center. For more information on this technical assistance, please contact Christina Chang at TAC by phone, 617-742-5657, or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information on the HUD NOFAs and TACís technical assistance initiative will be included in an upcoming issue of the "Opening Doors" newsletter (which all NAMI organizations should be receiving).