Study Points To Disability Housing Crisis
Housing is out of reach for many with disabilities, with a new report finding that rent for a small apartment often exceeds the total government benefits offered to such individuals.
On average, people with disabilities would need 104 percent of the payments they receive from Supplemental Security Income to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the United States. That’s the finding from an analysis released this week by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.
By comparison, housing is typically considered affordable when it makes up no more than 30 percent of a person’s income, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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For the report, the organizations compared the value of monthly SSI payments — which some 4.8 million Americans with disabilities rely on — with federal government data from 2012 on fair market rents for studio and one-bedroom apartments in cities across the country. They found that even the cost of a studio apartment was too high for individuals with disabilities, with rent on average accounting for 90 percent of a person’s monthly SSI check.
Though costs varied by location, the report found that rents for even the smallest apartments accounted for at least 60 percent of SSI payments in every state.
“Nowhere in the United States can people with disabilities receiving SSI afford a safe, decent place to live,” said Kevin Martone, executive director of the Technical Assistance Collaborative. “Yet taxpayer resources are spent exponentially on the costs associated with institutionalization and homelessness when more cost effective, proven solutions exist.”
For 2012, average monthly SSI payments to individuals totaled $726. At the same time, rent for a one-bedroom apartment averaged $758 per month.
Over the years, housing has become increasingly unaffordable for people with disabilities, according to the report titled “Priced Out,” which is produced biannually. When the first such analysis was released in 1998, average rental costs accounted for 69 percent of SSI benefits.
Due to the challenging housing situation, as many as two million people with disabilities are living with their parents, at homeless shelters, in crowded boarding houses or in segregated facilities like institutions and nursing homes, the report estimates.
Advocates said the findings should serve as a call to action.
“Having a safe place to call home is a basic human right and we have a responsibility to ensure individuals with disabilities are given the chance to find a home in the community they choose,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, who urged Congress to expand housing assistance for people with disabilities.