Access: The TAC Blog
A SAFE, AFFORDABLE HOME is physically and emotionally the healthiest place for any individual or family — not only during this crisis, but any time. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) targeted voucher programs can help people with disabilities (including those who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or living in nursing facilities or other institutions) move into an affordable apartment in the community. TAC’s comprehensive database of Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) targeted to people with disabilities has been updated this month to reflect new awards from HUD.
Recent events make it clearer than ever that housing equals health. TAC hopes this database of HUD resources will help to improve the health and housing situation for you or those you serve.
How can the database be useful during this crisis?
This is a difficult time for many local public housing agencies (PHAs); administering voucher programs remotely is challenging. However, HUD has recently issued COVID-19 statutory waivers that strongly encourage PHAs to conduct critical operations that can be done remotely, and that help families use vouchers to lease-up safe, affordable housing.
The database provides information about programs targeted to specific populations:
- Mainstream vouchers are Housing Choice Vouchers targeted to non-elderly persons with disabilities. HUD made awards of these vouchers in 2018 and 2019, and is expected to make additional awards this year. In recent funding rounds, PHAs were strongly encouraged to target these vouchers to non-elderly people with disabilities who were homeless, living institutions, or at risk of either of these situations.
- Nonelderly Disabled (NED) Vouchers assist non-elderly individuals and families with disabilities to access affordable housing on the private market. NED Category 2 vouchers are specifically targeted to non-elderly persons with disabilities who reside in nursing homes or other health care institutions to transition into the community.
- The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program combines rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA’s HUD-VASH staff prioritize and select Veteran households for a HUD-VASH voucher and refer the Veteran to the local PHA. (Note that to be eligible for VASH, Veterans must be homeless but do not have to have a disability.)
- The Family Unification Program (FUP) provides rental assistance for two populations: (1) Families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the imminent placement of the family’s child or children in out-of-home care, or the delay in the discharge of the child or children to the family from out-of-home care. (2) Youth ages 18 to 24 who have left or will be leaving foster care.
Aren’t all these vouchers already in use?
There is a broad range of utilization across these programs. HUD’s data for the end of December 2019 indicates that some PHAs had leased 100 percent of their units while others had leased none of their units. That means that thousands of vouchers across these different targeted programs remained available at the end of 2019. While HUD reports increasing utilization of Mainstream vouchers, each PHA will differ — so the possibility is worth exploring.
How can I find out whether these vouchers are available in my community?
To find out which agencies administer these vouchers in your community, select your state in the online TAC Database, and look for your specific area. If you learn that your community does have a special voucher program, use the data on page six of the HUD HCV Data Dashboard to check your PHA’s recent voucher utilization rate.
What if all the vouchers in my community are already in use?
Public housing agencies are required to maintain a single waiting list for the HCV program. Even if the waiting list is generally closed, it may be open for a specific voucher type. Contact your PHA to ask how to apply for the special voucher program. For HUD-VASH, contact the HUD-VASH staff at your local VA facility to find out how a Veteran would apply.
New Mainstream Housing Voucher Awards Announced
Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the award of almost $100 million in Mainstream Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) to 285 public housing authorities in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. As HUD noted in its press release, the availability of 12,000 new vouchers for non-elderly, low-income people with disabilities "helps to further the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act by helping persons with disabilities live in the most integrated setting."
Housing agencies must target these new vouchers to at least one of the following groups of people with disabilities:
- People transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings
- People at serious risk of institutionalization
- People experiencing homelessness
- People at risk of becoming homeless
In its application scoring system, HUD provided significant incentives for public housing authorities (PHAs) to partner with state or local agencies that work with these populations. To help foster such collaborations, TAC and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities co-hosted a series of outreach webinars for service providers, Continuums of Care (CoCs), and disability rights advocates as well as PHA leadership. More than 1,200 PHAs, CoCs, disability organizations, and other local partners participated in preparation for the application process.
Nearly $300 million in HUD's FY 2018 budget for the Mainstream HCV program remains. What does this mean for your community?
Apply: If your community did not apply for funds, start laying the groundwork now for your response to the next opportunity, which is likely to be in the near future.
Reapply: If you applied this summer but did not receive funding, request a debriefing from HUD (as described in the Notice of Funding Availability).
Reach out to your local PHA: Housing authorities that have been awarded vouchers will need the assistance of local homeless, disability, and other service agencies to implement this program effectively!
As TAC's recent report Priced Out: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities documents, non-elderly adults with disabilities living on Supplemental Security Income are confronting a housing affordability gap across our nation. These new federal funds can help close the gap for people with disabilities in your community.
TAC Staff in Action
TAC Associate Phil Allen teamed up with Bill Burns, director of Family Promise of Onterio County, NY, to bike 100 miles in the 2018 Point to Point ride, raising over $1,000 for the Vermont Foodbank; As part of TAC's work with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, Associates Ellen Fitzpatrick and Lauren Knott facilitated a meeting in Las Vegas with juvenile justice and child welfare system representatives, youth service providers, young people who have experienced homelessness, and other stakeholders to determine objectives and strategies to include in the group's plan to end youth homelessness in Southern Nevada; Through the Department of Veterans Affairs' Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, Managing Director Marie Herb, Senior Consultant Jim Yates, Associates Phil Allen and Douglas Tetrault, and contractor Naomi Sweitzer have conducted launch meetings throughout the summer in communities that are part of a pilot program focused on rapid resolution of housing crises; Executive Director Kevin Martone participated in Monarch Housing Associates' New Jersey Hill Day in Washington, DC to advocate for strong housing assistance programs; Administrative Assistant Mayra Pabon started as a volunteer at Horizons for Homeless Children; Mayra also represented TAC at a celebration event for graduates of the Boston Center for Independent Living's Transitions Internship Program, including TAC summer intern Jordon Myers (see below).
We are happy to announce the addition of two new Senior Associates to the TAC team. Rachel Post, who will work with the Human Services Group, is based in Portland, OR where she has worked both locally and nationally on programs to improve social determinants of health. At TAC, Rachel will provide consultation and support for initiatives that create and sustain integrated health, behavioral health, employment, and housing programs and services for vulnerable populations. Ayana Dilday Gonzalez, who is joining our Housing Group, will be based here in our Boston office; Ayana brings extensive state-level leadership experience developing and maintaining supportive housing projects, and will be working with us on HUD's CoC and 811 Project-based Rental Assistance programs and other HUD multifamily housing Initiatives.
Congratulations to Francine Arienti on her new role as TAC's Human Services Director, and to Associate Ashley Mann-McLellan on her new role as a mom! Welcome to the world, Zoe McLellan!
And finally, thanks and farewell to summer intern Jordon Myers, a Framingham State University student who joined us through the Boston Center for Independent Living's Transitions Internship Program.