CMS announces grants to develop partnerships with State Housing Agencies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded $1,980,000 in grants to six states to develop sustainable partnerships with State Housing Agencies. These Real Choice Systems Change Grants seek to create long-term strategies to provide permanent and affordable rental housing for people with disabilities who receive Medicaid services. The grants are intended to support recent legislative changes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program that focus on maximizing integration of supportive housing units as well as cost efficiency.

House Subcommittee marks up FY 2012 housing appropriations bill

The House Appropriations Committee, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee approved the FY 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.  In this first step, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program received an allocation from the Subcommittee of $196 million, which is equal to the President’s requested funding level for FY 2012.

HUD announces funding availability for supportive housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a notice of funding availability (NOFA) of $114 million:  $87M for Mainstream voucher renewals; $34M for project rental assistance contract renewals/amendments, and $113.99M for an estimated 899 new units of supportive housing for non-elderly people with disabilities. PLEASE NOTE:  Because these funds were appropriated in HUD’s FY 2010 budget, this NOFA does not implement the new approaches to creating Section 811 units authorized by the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act.  The reformed Section 811 program – which was signed into law by President Obama in January of 2011 – will be implemented during FY 2012.  Section 811 applications submitted in response to this NOFA are due to HUD on June 23, 2011.  More information is available at http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa10/811nofa.pdf

Major Cuts to Disability programs approved by the House; Senate to work on its spending bill next week

On Saturday, the House of Representatives completed work on a FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) that would make landmark cuts to domestic discretionary funding in the remainder of this fiscal year.  The cuts to programs were over $100 billion when compared to what President Obama requested for FY 2011.  Over 580 amendments were offered during the debate on the bill, with 67 passing that cut an additional $620 million. The overwhelming majority of the cuts were to domestic programs though $19 billion did come from security-related cuts.  The Senate is expected to work on a CR when they return from the President’s day recess the week of February 28. The Senate Democratic leadership has signaled an unwillingness to pursue the level of cuts in the House bill but it is unclear what the strategy will be.

While reducing the deficit is important to all Americans, The Arc and UCP will continue work diligently to ensure that this is not done at the expense of the most vulnerable, underserved, and unserved segment of our society.  We will be calling on our grassroots in the coming weeks to help preserve the most essential programs for people with disabilities.

Below are some examples of the program cuts in the House bill:

Health Care:  Nine amendments were accepted aimed at blocking implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prohibiting funds to pay the salary of employees or contractors working on implementation and prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing the individual responsibility section of the ACA.

Employment:  The House bill eliminates the State Supported Employment grant program and the Projects with Industry grant program.  Also the overall amount of funding to states for employment and training was cut by nearly $1.4 billion.

Housing: Housing for Persons with Disabilities would be cut by 70%.  The Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program budget would be cut from the FY 2010 level of $300 million to $90 million for FY 2011.

Special Education: The House bill would cut funding to states for special education by $557 million.  Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers introduced an amendment which passed by a vote of 249 to 179.  The amendment would restore the $557 million to special education by taking that amount from regular education.  Several advocacy groups, including the Council for Exceptional Children, had opposed the amendment stating that it “robbed Peter to pay Paul.”

Social Security:  The Administration’s “Limitation on Administrative Expenses,” the amount the agency spends on salaries and other costs to administer its programs, would be funded at $10.675 billion.  This is $1.7 billion less than the President’s request for FY 2011 and will result in increased backlogs in disability cases.  In anticipation of the possibility of this reduced spending level, SSA has imposed a hiring freeze and is planning for the possibility of furloughs.

Transportation:  The biggest cut to transportation was to the high speed rail program, a priority of the Obama Administration.  Amtrak was cut an additional $151 million.

Special Olympics: All funding would be eliminated.

Congress reforms Section 811 program

On December 21, by unanimous consent, the House passed the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 (S. 1481) and sent the bill to the President for his signature. The bill modernizes the Section 811 supportive housing for persons with disabilities program, increases the supply of affordable, accessible housing and authorizes $300 million for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015. It simplifies the process for non-profit organizations to provide housing and will ensure more integrated housing for people with disabilities. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. The Arc and UCP celebrate this great victory after an intensive three-year advocacy effort. For more information, read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) at http://www.thearc.org/document.doc?id=2886

Senate passes supportive housing bill for people with disabilities and House voting today

On December 17, the Senate passed S. 1481, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act by unanimous consent. The House of Representatives overwhelming passed its version of the bill, H.R. 1675, last year. The House is scheduled to vote on the Senate-passed measure today and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

This groundbreaking legislation streamlines Section 811 processing requirements, removes outdated regulatory barriers, and transfers funding for the “mainstream” voucher program to the Section 8 voucher program. This legislation has been a high priority for chapters of The Arc and affiliates of UCP who develop and operate supportive housing. The Arc and UCP would like to extend our gratitude in particular to Ronald Cohen, CEO of UCP of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties and Tony Paulauski, Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois, for their advocacy. See their Congressional testimony at http://financialservices.house.gov/hearing110/cohen062008.pdf  and
http://financialservices.house.gov/hearing110/paulauski062008.pdf

HUD seeking public comments on Section 811 Program procedures

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a notice of web availability and opportunity for public comment on updated guidance for the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons With Disabilities Programs. This notice pertains to processing activities after selection of Section 202 and Section 811 applications for fund reservations including mixed-finance transactions. See the updated guidance at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/mfh/progdesc/draftnotice202-811.pdf

Comments are due 1/18/11. For information on submitting comments, please see http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-30689.pdf