Federal housing officials are putting $120 million on the table to help thousands of people with disabilities access rental assistance.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Tuesday that state housing agencies can apply now through May 5 for a share of the funding that’s intended to help prevent homelessness and unnecessary institutionalization of those with disabilities.

The money is available under HUD’s Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, an initiative created through a 2010 law designed to expand community-based housing options for people with disabilities.

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To participate, state housing agencies must work with local Medicaid and health and human services agencies to identify and assist individuals with disabilities who require long-term services and supports to live independently in the community.

The money is tagged to help those with disabilities who earn less than 30 percent of their area’s median income, officials said.

Similar funding was distributed for the first time last year to 13 states, making available some 3,500 new housing units many of which went to help people transitioning out of institutions. At that time, advocates said that 35 states had applied to participate in the new program, highlighting the demand for housing aid.

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