State Housing Agencies: How They Can Help People With Disabilities

Beginning in the 1990s, state housing agencies began to play an increasingly important role in creating affordable housing for low-income households. Because of the complexities associated with state housing agencies, people with disabilities and their housing advocates may have trouble “deciphering” how state housing agencies can assist people with disabilities. This confusion is not surprising since: • Many states have more than one state agency dedicated to expanding affordable housing. Often these agencies do not coordinate their activities; • State housing agencies can administer an array of housing programs that range from programs that assist homeless people to programs that benefit moderate-income homeowners; and • State housing agencies may work through community-based organizations rather than administer programs directly. Although state housing agencies are producing new “affordable” housing every year, in many instances this new supply of housing is not affordable to people with extremely low incomes. Given the severe housing crisis facing people with disabilities across the nation, it is critical that state housing agencies be challenged to use their resources to create housing for people with disabilities with incomes as low as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit levels. This issue of Opening Doors describes the various types of state housing agencies and the resources they control. It also identifies strategies for using these resources to expand housing options for people with disabilities with the lowest incomes. (Authors)

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Opening Doors