People with disabilities are more likely to be poor than others. Most of us who cannot work live on SSI, SSDI, or public assistance. All of these are too low to pay for market-rate housing in New York City.
Those of us who need accessible housing are in even worse shape. Much of the city’s housing stock was built long before accessibility laws were passed. New, accessible apartments are being built with government subsidies, but most of them require residents to have higher incomes than what is provided by SSI.
The only new housing that people on SSI can afford is supportive housing. Supportive housing is more independent than a nursing home, but the most independent form of housing—and the kind that most people with disabilities need—is the ordinary apartment, with no supportive housing provider involved.
The fact that people living below the poverty level are too poor for affordable housing is nothing new. The quote below is from a 2001 HUD report. The situation it describes has not improved. People on SSI, who are all elderly, disabled or blind, still have incomes below 20% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
“Renters with the lowest incomes remain much more likely to have severe housing problems than those with higher incomes. Over three-fourths (76 percent) of unassisted renters with incomes below 20 percent of AMI had the severe housing problems that qualify as worst case problems in 1999, compared to 28 percent of unassisted renters with incomes between 31 and 40 percent of AMI and only eight percent among unassisted renters with incomes between 51 and 60 percent of AMI.”*
By “unassisted renters”, the report refers to people who do not have Section 8 vouchers, public housing, supportive housing, or other government subsidies. There are long waiting lists for all forms of subsidy. While they wait, too many people with disabilities are forced to live in unsafe apartments, adult homes, nursing homes, homeless shelters, or prison.
* “A Report On Worst Case Housing Needs In 1999: New Opportunity Amid Continuing Challenges [Executive Summary]”, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, January 2001.
CIDNY works in cooperation with a number of organizations concerned with housing in New York State and New York City. We invite you to learn more about some of those who have websites:
Barrier Free Living
Coalition for the Homeless
Housing Here and Now
Tenants and Neighbors
Empire State Housing Alliance