In early July, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officially announced its new offer of $150 million in grants to provide affordable housing to “non-elderly persons” who are living with a disability. A press release issued by HUD cites the number of Americans who will benefit from this opportunity as approximately 18,000, with approximately 300 grants to be awarded to public housing agencies. Applications for grants are due September 5, 2019.
The funding is part of the federal Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program. According to an article from Disability Scoop, applying agencies will “receive extra points” by detailing plans to use the grant specifically for assisting those with disabilities who wish to leave separated living circumstances (in which they live and receive services outside the community) and who are or have been at risk of institutionalization or homelessness, along with other underserved populations in the disability community.
Federal housing officials stated that partnerships between the public housing agencies that plan to apply and organizations with health and human resources are strongly encouraged, as the people who take part in the public housing will benefit greatly from their services.
In 2018, HUD awarded $98.5 million through the Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher program to 285 public housing agencies located across the country, ensuring affordable housing for almost 12,000 people living with a disability, according to a HUD press release issued in September 2018. This year, the funding has expanded, allowing even more organizations to provide quality living circumstances to those with disabilities. This expansion allows HUD to further the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a critical one being the provision of programs and services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting possible.
This funding was announced only days after the disability community celebrated the 20th anniversary of Olmstead v. L.C., as an article by the Administration for Community Living explains. On June 22, 1999, the landmark Supreme Court case ruled it unconstitutional for people with disabilities to be deprived of services in settings that are as integrated as they can possibly be.
Despite legislative challenges, Olmstead’s goal is still alive today, and programs like this funding from HUD help to sustain it.