Monday, April 4, 2011

Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities - 2009

Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities - 2009. Information Bulletin # 329 (4/2011)

HUD released its biannual “Worst Case” housing needs report in March. In 2009, for the first time, people with disabilities were asked direct questions regarding their disabilities in the American Housing Survey. The result is that the HUD report is much more accurate regarding disability than previous “Worst Case” reports. Go to

One major limitation is that the survey was only of noninstitutionalized people with disabilities. Ever person with a disability in a nursing home, mental institution, ICF-MR were not included. But heck, why think of them having a housing problem?

Why is “Worst Case” information important for advocates? Because every recipient of federal financial assistance from HUD – public housing authorities for housing and vouchers, Community Development Block Grant recipients, and HOME Investment Partnership recipients – are supposed to prioritize housing needs using real data and supposed to allocate their funds to meet these priorities.

Yes, yes, yes, we know the wiggle words “supposed to.” Well, housing advocates have really dropped the ball and have not previously challenged the use of these federal funds by and large. Too harsh? Quick quiz:

How many of you, housing advocates for people with disabilities, have even read a recent Consolidated Plans and the Public Housing Authorities Annual Plans? How long has it been since you looked at one?

How many of these Plans identify and recognize that People with Disabilities have “worst case” housing needs AND THEREFORE the federal funds must address these needs? Do they use real data? What’s the source?

Who among you has filed a complaint with HUD to stop the federal funds because these Plans either do not use real housing data, or do not really address the priority of people with disabilities, or allocate these federal funds to meet the worst needs?

One million households with nonelderly people with disabilities had “worst case” needs. That’s 38 percent of all very low-income renter households with disabilities, a 13 percent increase from 2007.

HUD’s “2009 Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities” focuses on the national level, but the data used is available for your locales - whether city, county or state. It’s all on the web!!! The report uses the American Housing Survey which in 2009 asked persons if they had “serious difficulty” hearing, seeing, concentrating, difficulty walking/climbing stairs, dressing/bathing, going outside to shop or go to a doctor’s office.

As in the past, “worst case” means renters who pay more than one-half of their income for rent and/or lived in severely inadequate conditions. HUD also recognized that people with disabilities face additional housing burden that nondisabled persons do not, including significant discrimination and the limited availability of accessible housing.

Once again, we ask advocates if people with disabilities in your locale have these additional burdens? If yes, then does your Consolidated Plan identify, e.g., scarcity of accessible units, as an impediment to fair housing? Does your Consolidated Plan address how it will remedy this impediment? If not, have you filed a complaint with HUD to stop federal funds until this impediment is adequately addressed?

Yes, we know HUD has not had in the past the fortitude to do anything about this impediment, but until we file complaints HUD is completely off the hook.
It’s up to you. Power concedes nothing without a struggle!

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. Information Bulletins are also be posted on my blog located at
To contact Steve Gold directly, write to or call 215-627-7100.

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