To Mark Disability Pride Month and the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, HUD Reaffirms Its Commitment to Community Living for Individuals with Disabilities
July marks the 2022 celebration of Disability Pride Month and the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a comprehensive civil rights law for persons with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is using this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to support the rights of individuals with disabilities to integration and community living as upheld in the landmark case, Olmstead v. L.C. HUD recognizes that quality, accessible, and affordable housing is vital to fulfilling the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, and that furthering the goals of Olmstead is a core part of our mission.
Supporting community living through affordable, integrated, and accessible housing is a top priority at HUD and pursued every day as a cross-departmental effort. While this work is ongoing, this fact sheet reflects some of the recent ways HUD is ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access our housing programs to transition from or avoid institutional settings, avoid housing discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their disability, and maximize their choice and independence.
Assisting Individuals with Disabilities to Transition from Institutional Settings to the Community
Since April 2021, HUD, alongside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has provided technical assistance to help the public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer Mainstream Vouchers for non-elderly persons with disabilities to strengthen their partnerships with state agencies that assist persons with disabilities to transition from institutional settings to the community. In March 2022, HUD launched two Communities of Practice (COP) convening PHAs that administer Mainstream Vouchers in Connecticut and Minnesota. The COP is strengthening coordination between PHAs and agencies that assist individuals with disabilities and improving successful lease-ups of community-based housing among people transitioning to the community from institutional settings.
In December 2021, HUD and HHS launched the joint Housing and Services Resource Center (HSRC) , a one-stop shop for technical assistance, resources, and guidance on how to coordinate HUD and HHS programs to provide community-based housing and supportive services to support community living among individuals with disabilities and older adults, including people experiencing homelessness. More than 30,000 individuals have visited the Housing and Services Resource Center website and HUD and HHS have provided technical assistance to states, communities, and community-based organizations to assist them with coordinating HUD and HHS programs to support community living for individuals with disabilities. More than 9,300 people have engaged in one or more of the HSRC webinars, conference sessions, HSRC and House America office hours, Public Housing Authority Communities of Practice, and the Money Follows the Person Learning collaboratives. The HSRC featured promising state or community partnerships across the country from numerous states including CA, MA, MD, OH, IA, TN, TX, and WA.
In June 2022, HUD announced the availability of $40 million in carryover funding for additional Mainstream Vouchers to support community living for persons with disabilities. In addition, HUD announced that it is making available $500 per Mainstream Voucher awarded in extraordinary administrative fees that will enable PHAs to help individuals with disabilities overcome barriers to finding and leasing rental housing. These additional fees can be used to provide housing search and lease-up assistance, as well as landlord incentives, security deposits, and vacancy payments.
Individuals with disabilities face significant barriers obtaining and using housing assistance and can benefit from assistance with the application process, searching for accessible and affordable housing, requesting reasonable accommodations, and moving into the unit. HUD is currently conducting a study that examines successful programs and approaches that help individuals with disabilities overcome these challenges and successfully use housing assistance. The final report, entitled ‘Housing Search Assistance for People with Disabilities,’ will be published in 2023.
Addressing Housing Discrimination among Individuals with Disabilities
HUD has completed high-profile Section 504 investigations and compliance reviews that have resulted in significant monetary and other relief to victims. Other relief has included significant changes to policies and practices, including increases in physical or programmatic accessibility provided by recipients of federal financial assistance. HUD has pursued relief through an array of measures, including Voluntary Compliance/Conciliation Agreements, Consent Orders, and bringing charges under the Fair Housing Act.
On June 10, 2022, HUD issued guidance on the investigation of housing discrimination complaints that allege discrimination under the Fair Housing Act based on a housing provider’s use of criminal records in tenant screening that specifically discusses how such practices can result in disability discrimination. The guidance describes the three ways in which a housing provider can discriminate against individuals with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act when using applicants’ or tenants’ criminal history to reject rental applications or evict tenants from housing: intentional discrimination or disparate treatment, unjustified disparate impact, and refusal to grant reasonable accommodations that may be necessary for an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to enjoy and use a dwelling.
HUD has drafted a proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule undergoing interagency review. HUD expects to publish the rule for public comment in the near future. The obligation of HUD funding recipients to affirmatively further fair housing requires them to consider and remedy disparities in housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities as well as people in other protected classes.
Increasing Integrated and Accessible Housing for People with Disabilities
HUD’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program aims to expand the supply of integrated affordable housing by providing capital advance funding for the development of permanent supportive rental housing for very-low-income persons with disabilities age 18 years or older. The program also provides project rental subsidies to maintain ongoing affordability over the next forty years. These units provide persons with disabilities the opportunity to live with dignity and independence within the community in an integrated environment that provides access to appropriate and voluntary supportive services.
HUD has provided over 1.2 million low-income families with decent, safe, and affordable housing via Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), including older adults and people with disabilities, to continue to live independently. When paired with quality voluntary supportive services, PBRA can help individuals with disabilities obtain and maintain community-based stable housing and avoid institutional settings.
In March 2021, HUD published findings from an analysis of 2019 American Housing Survey data that provided a national estimate of the need for accessible housing units in America. The analysis found that 13 percent of U.S. households include someone who uses a mobility-assistive device, and 19 percent of households include an individual with accessibility needs. Further, 6 percent of households include someone who has difficulty entering the home, or accessing or using a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom due to a physical disability or related condition.
HUD plans to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making seeking public input on how it should update and revise its rule under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that the programs and activities of recipients of federal financial assistance from HUD provide equal opportunity and equal access for individuals with disabilities. HUD will seek public comment on ways it can improve its Section 504 regulations and the accessibility standards for HUD-assisted facilities in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities truly have equal access to all HUD-assisted programs, activities, and facilities, such as public housing, affordable housing, homeownership programs, homeless shelters, and disaster recovery.
The Fair Housing Act requires all newly constructed multifamily housing with four or more units to comply with accessible design and construction requirements, so the housing is accessible to or adaptable for use by individuals with disabilities. To improve compliance with these requirements, HUD operates Fair Housing Accessibility First, a program that provides information, technical assistance, resources, and training on the accessible design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD has promoted the adoption of accessibility standards in housing through Multifamily Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance programs, which include requirements for borrower compliance with ADA and Section 504 accessibility standards for both new construction and refinancing of existing properties to ensure that both affordable and market rate properties are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Mortgage insurance is often combined with HUD financial assistance or programs administered by state and local governments, and therefore, the accessible housing stock is continually increased.
HUD plans to develop a quick summary document of the existing resources, such as Notices and Guides, that provide guidance on the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA for Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and other programs administered by the Office of Community Planning and Development.
Providing Housing and Services to People Experiencing Homelessness
Individuals with disabilities are over-represented among people experiencing homelessness. HUD’s data indicates that more than half of all people experiencing sheltered homelessness report having a disability. While national data is limited, local data indicates that this over-representation may be even higher among people who experience unsheltered homelessness, that is, people sleeping on the streets, in encampments, and other places not meant for human habitation. Through HUD’s Office of Special Needs, HUD administers programs that provide community-based housing with voluntary supportive services to help individuals with disabilities, including HIV/AIDS, to transition from homelessness into permanent housing.
In March 2022, HUD awarded FY 2021 Continuum of Care Program grants totaling $1.749 billion to 4,056 permanent supportive housing projects, totaling 66.1% of all competition funding, assisting individuals with disabilities exit homelessness and achieve housing stability.
In December 2021, HUD funded 128 jurisdictions through Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) formula awards totaling $387,000,000, which provided housing and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. That month, HUD also awarded $41 million in HOPWA competitive grants to 20 local governments and non-profit organizations through the HOPWA: Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS funding opportunity.
People with disabilities are significantly over-represented among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and in June 2022, HUD issued a first-of-its-kind funding package to address unsheltered homelessness including in rural areas. This funding packages includes $322 million in grants-including $54.5 million set-aside for rural areas-to fund homeless outreach, permanent housing, supportive services, interim housing, planning and data costs, as well as $43 million to fund 4,000 Housing Choice Vouchers.