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There’s no place like home – if you can afford it.

May 30th, 2013 · No Comments · Blog, Featured Home Page Post

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A serious issue facing people with disabilities seems to get little to no attention from the media – the fact that the U.S. currently has an affordable housing crisis. To be fair, the high price of rent affects everyone, whether they have a disability or not. In Chicago, for example, a person would have to work more than 80 hours per week at minimum wage just to afford a two-bedroom apartment and in Washington, DC a person would have to work 140 hours per week to do the same. As a country, we ought to do something about that.

But many people with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, as their sole source of income and the high cost of housing hits them particularly hard as a result. A new report from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities entitled Priced Out in 2012 shows just how inadequate SSI is to help people meet this basic human need.

Among the report findings:

  • In 2012, as a national average, a person receiving SSI needed to pay 104% of their monthly income in order to rent a modest one-bedroom unit. People with disabilities receiving SSI were also priced out of smaller studio/efficiency rental units, which cost 90% of SSI. Incredibly, this study found that there are now 181 markets across 33 states where rents for modestly priced units exceed 100% of monthly SSI. In four states and the District of Columbia, rents across the entire state exceeded 100% of monthly SSI.
  • In the nearly 15 years since the first Priced Out study, the housing affordability gap for people with disabilities has almost doubled as the cost of a modestly priced rental unit has increased from 69% of SSI in 1998 to 104% in 2012.
  • People with disabilities who rely on SSI continue to be among the nation’s poorest citizens. In 2012, the national average monthly SSI payment for a single individual was only $726 – equal to only 19.2% of the national median income and almost 30% below the 2012 federal poverty level of $11,170.

These facts make it clear that we need to provide more assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities in the form of housing vouchers, supportive housing, and other permanent rental assistance. Page 9 of the Priced Out in 2012 report makes just those types of recommendations – such as:

Unfortunately, sequestration and other austerity measures threaten these vital programs through funding cuts – at a time when they are already inadequate and we should be expanding them.

Lisa Ekman, Health & Disability Advocates

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