Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries receive too little each month to reasonably afford apartment rent in any housing market across the nation, a new report shows.

Nationally, the average rent for a basic studio or one-bedroom apartment exceeds the average SSI payment of $983 per month.

Even in the cheapest rental market in the country — Dallas County, Mo. — rent for either a one-bedroom or efficiency would require 64% of a person’s monthly SSI payment.

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The findings are outlined in a new report called Priced Out that’s regularly updated by the Technical Assistance Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on housing issues among people with disabilities, and the Consortium for Constituents with Disabilities, a coalition of disability advocacy organizations.

“With the latest data from several federal sources compiled at the end of 2023, it is unfortunately clear that yet again, the 4.1 million people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 who receive SSI cannot afford an apartment in any housing market in the United States without additional support,” Lisa Sloane, a director at the Technical Assistance Collaborative, wrote in a posting about the findings. “Because there is neither enough affordable housing nor sufficient access to rental assistance, many of these people find themselves homeless, at ongoing risk of homelessness, living in segregated institutions, or incarcerated.”

The researchers compiled data on fair market rents in housing markets across the nation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and compared those numbers to SSI payments for each locality. While federal SSI payments are capped at $943 per month for individuals and $1,415 for couples, some states chip in extra.

The average rent across the country for a basic one-bedroom apartment runs $1,398 per month, with a studio running just shy of $1,300, according to the report. At the highest end, SSI recipients would need two-and-a-half times their monthly benefits to pay for either a studio or one-bedroom apartment in the Santa Cruz-Watsonville housing market in California.

The researchers note that many SSI recipients qualify under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s classification of “worst case housing needs,” which is defined as households with incomes at or below 50% of their area’s median income who receive no government housing assistance, pay over half their income in rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both.

“More often than not, people with developmental disabilities go to school with people who do not have disabilities, work with people who do not have disabilities, and should be able to expect to live in (the) community according to their own choices, including in their own apartment. Since rental assistance reaches only one in four households eligible to receive it, more housing resources are desperately needed,” Sloane told Disability Scoop.

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