June 12, 2015

By Andrew Sperling

Priced Out in the United States
  [+] Expand. Photo from the Technical Assistance Collaborative. 

Earlier this week, the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force released an important report showing the huge difficulties faced by people with disabilities including mental illness in getting affordable rental housing. The report, Priced Out in 2014, compares Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to fair market rents in housing markets across the country. A fairly obvious point made for anyone who relies on SSI for basic needs or has family members that do–nowhere in America are SSI benefits enough to rent your own apartment.

Along with the report, they released a fact sheet with these key findings:

  • The average annual income of a single individual receiving SSI payments was $8,995 — equal to only 20.1% of the national median income for a one-person household and about 23% below the 2014 federal poverty level.
  • The national average rent for a modest one-bedroom rental unit was $780, equal to 104% of the national average monthly income of a one-person SSI household. This finding confirms that, in 2014, it was virtually impossible for a single adult receiving SSI to obtain decent and safe housing in the community without some type of rental assistance.
  • The national average rent for a studio/efficiency unit in 2014 was $674, equal to 90% of monthly SSI. In eight states and in the District of Columbia, areas with the highest housing costs in the nation, the average studio/efficiency rent exceeded 100% of the income of an SSI recipient.
  • In 17 states and the District of Columbia, statewide average one-bedroom rents were higher than monthly SSI payments, including: Hawaii (173%), District of Columbia (171%), Maryland (146%), New Jersey (144%), New York (133%), Virginia (126%), Delaware (123%), California (121%), Massachusetts (121%), New Hampshire (113%), Connecticut (113%), Florida (111%), Illinois (111%), Vermont (107%), Colorado (106%), Nevada (105%), Washington (104%), and Rhode Island (103%).
  • In four states — Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and New Jersey — and the District of Columbia, one-bedroom rents exceeded 100% of SSI in every single housing market area. Over 156,000 people with disabilities receiving SSI lived in these areas in 2014.
  • In 162 housing market areas across 33 states, one-bedroom rents exceeded 100% of monthly SSI. Rents for modest rental units in 15 of these areas exceeded 150% of SSI.

While this is not news, the report can be used as an advocacy tool for NAMI members in asking their affordable housing system to support rental housing—especially Section 8—to non-elderly people with disabilities.

Visit the Technical Assitance Collaborative’s website to learn more about the key findings and what we can do about this crisis.

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