The number of Americans with disabilities who live in dire housing situations is on the rise, a new report indicates.

About 1 million households that include people with disabilities qualified as having “worst case housing needs” in 2009, according to data released this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The classification identifies households with extremely low-income renters who receive no government housing aid and who spend more than half of their income on rent or who live in substandard conditions.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

For the first time in 2009, government officials asked about disability status when collecting housing data. Compared with estimates from previous years, HUD officials say the number of people with disabilities living in “worst case” situations grew by 140,000 between 2007 and 2009.

At the same time, there was a 20 percent rise in the number of people in the general population who struggled to pay for or find quality housing. Federal housing officials say one reason that people with disabilities didn’t see quite as large an increase as the general population is that significant attention has been paid to targeting housing assistance toward this more vulnerable group.

“Persons with disabilities are confronted with a number of obstacles to finding decent rental housing, including discrimination and the general lack of accessible housing they can afford,” said Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary for policy development and research at HUD, about the findings. He emphasized that by starting to collect better data, the department will be able to further mitigate some of the barriers that people with disabilities face.