Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced the “Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018” (S. 3612). The bill would expand the Fair Housing Act’s protections to prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income or veteran status. Under the bill, source of income includes a Section 8 housing voucher or other form of federal, state, or local housing assistance; Social Security or Supplemental Security Income; income received by court order, including spousal support and child support; and payment from a trust, guardian, or conservator. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The Arc strongly supports this legislation.
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $98.5 million to 285 public housing authorities across the U.S. to provide new, permanent affordable housing vouchers to nearly 12,000 non-elderly people with disabilities. The vouchers will be provided through the Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program which assists non-elderly people with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings; at serious risk of institutionalization; homeless; or at risk of becoming homeless. Click here for a comprehensive list of awards, by state. Visit the Technical Assistance Collaborative resource page to learn more about this program and (when announced) upcoming opportunities for housing authorities to apply for additional funding.
On June 27, Representatives Don McEachin (D-VA) and John Faso (R-NY) introduced the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2018. This bill requires landlords of federally-funded housing units built before 1978 where children under the age of six will or may reside to conduct thorough risk assessments for lead-based paint hazards. In addition, landlords would be required to provide a means for families to relocate without penalty if a lead hazard is not controlled in 30 days, and to disclose the presence of lead hazards found in the home. The Arc supports this legislation to reduce exposure to lead which is known to contribute to learning and developmental disabilities.
On June 26, the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Government’s Approach to Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation in Public and Subsidized Housing.” The hearing will examine how HUD remedies unsafe living conditions. Exposure to high levels of lead increases the risk for learning and developmental disabilities in children. This hearing follows the release of two reports last week: the Government Accountability Office, “Lead Paint in Housing: HUD Should Strengthen Grant Processes, Compliance Monitoring, and Performance Assessment” and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of the Inspector General, “HUD Lacked Adequate Oversight of Lead-Based Paint Reporting and Remediation in Its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs“. Visit the Committee web site for more information.
On June 27, the House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be the sole witness. Visit the Committee web site for more information.
On April 25, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson released proposed legislation that would raise rents and allow new work requirements for millions of low-income people who receive basic housing assistance from HUD. Combined, the bill’s proposals would make it harder for millions of renters – including people with disabilities – to access affordable housing in their community. The HUD bill includes a number of proposals put forward by Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL) in draft legislation and discussed in a hearing last week by the House Committee on Financial Services. To learn more, read The Arc’s statement on this proposal.
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act – a powerful law that fights housing discrimination and opens doors for people with disabilities across the country. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (gender), familial status, and disability. While much progress has been made over the last 50 years, more work remains. And today, our fair housing rights face new threats. Learn more about what you can do to help ensure that the Fair Housing Act’s promise continues to advance.
The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force have released “Priced Out: The Housing Affordability Crisis for People with Disabilities.” This biennial report documents the nationwide housing affordability crisis experienced by people with disabilities. In 2016, millions of adults with disabilities living solely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) found that renting even a modest one-bedroom unit in their community would require nearly all of their monthly income. In hundreds of higher-cost housing markets, the average rent for such basic units is actually much greater than the entirety of an SSI monthly payment. As outlined in Priced Out, proven solutions to the crisis exist. Visit the Priced Out web site to view the report, summaries, and an interactive tool to help you learn about the affordable housing crisis for people with disabilities in your own state and community.
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Financial Services will mark up the GSE Jumpstart Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 4560). The bill, introduced by Rep. French Hill (R-AR) would have the impact of suspending funding for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF). The HTF provides states with dedicated funding for affordable housing, primarily for people with extremely low incomes, a group that includes many people with disabilities. As described in a statement by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “The Housing Trust Fund is funded through a slight fee (0.42%) on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac activity. If enacted, the bill would stop funding for the Housing Trust Fund until Wall Street investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac receive dividend payments. This can only occur when Congress enacts legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have been in government conservatorship for nearly a decade.” The Arc strongly opposes H.R. 4560. Visit the Committee web site to learn more and for live video the day of the markup.
On March 2, the Senate confirmed Ben Carson as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by a vote of 58-41. HUD is the cabinet level department that oversees federal housing programs and enforces housing laws such as the Fair Housing Act.