Author: David Wolowitz & Michael O'Connor, Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: October 2004
(Chapter 9 Section 4 from Guidebook of Laws and Programs for People with Disabilities)
The McKinney Homeless Assistance Act;
The National Affordable Housing Act – Section 811;
The Housing Act of 1959 – Section 202;
The U.S. Housing Act of 1937.
What Is It? A series of federal laws that establish a program of supportive housing for low-income persons with disabilities.
What Is Its Purpose? To provide federal money for operating costs and rental assistance for housing projects serving persons with disabilities. To enable persons with disabilities to live with dignity and independence within their communities by expanding the supply of housing that accommodates their special needs and provides them with supportive services that addresses their needs.
Who Can Be Helped by This Law? Low-income or homeless people with disabilities.
The Purpose of the Program
This is a program created by the federal McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. Its purpose is to authorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make certain grants to State or local governments, private non-profit organizations, or public community mental health associations. These grants are to promote the development of "supportive housing" and "supportive services," including innovative approaches to assist homeless persons in the transition from homelessness to living independently.
Types of Supportive Housing Projects
Under this program, HUD can provide grants to two types of supportive housing projects:
Permanent housing for homeless persons with disabilities. These projects provide community-based, long-term housing and supportive services. There are limits on the number of homeless persons with disabilities that these projects can serve. Usually, the project can serve no more than 8 such persons in a single structure. However, under certain circumstances, the project can serve up to 16 or more such persons.
Transitional Housing. This type of project provides temporary housing to promote the movement of homeless individuals and families to permanent housing. It is designed especially for de-institutionalized homeless individuals, and homeless individuals with mental disabilities and other disabilities.
You can stay in transitional housing for 2 years. You can stay longer, if permanent housing for you or your family has not been located, or if you need more time to prepare for independent living. However, HUD can stop assistance to the whole transitional housing project if more than half of the homeless individuals or families stay in that project longer than 2 years.
HUD also can decide to fund other types of projects that are innovative or which provide alternative methods of meeting the needs of homeless persons.
All supportive housing must be safe and sanitary. It must meet applicable State and local housing codes and licensing requirements.
The Types of Grants Available to the Projects
When HUD makes a grant to one of these types of supportive housing projects, the grant must be for one or more of the following types of assistance, for use as supportive housing:
• A grant up to $200,000 to acquire or rehabilitate an existing structure.
• A grant up to $400,000 for new construction of a structure.
• A grant for leasing an existing structure.
• Annual payments up to 75% of the operating costs for housing.
• A grant for the costs of supportive services provided to homeless persons.
Who is Eligible for this Housing?
You are eligible for this type of housing if you are considered to be both "homeless" and a "person with a disability."
• Is expected to be of indefinite duration;
• Substantially impedes your ability to live independently, and
• Is such that your ability to live independently could be improved by more suitable housing conditions.
You are also considered to have a disability if you have a developmental disability or HIV or AIDS.
You are considered to be "homeless" if:
• You lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; or
• You have a primary night-time residence either which is a supervised shelter or which is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
Examples: a welfare hotel, a congregate shelter, or transitional housing for the mentally ill.
All projects must provide residential supervision and other activities as necessary to make sure that adequate "supportive services" are given to the residents. This can include the employment of a full time or part time residential supervisor.
The term "supportive services" includes such things as operating a child care services program; operating an employment assistance program; providing outpatient health services, food, and case management; providing assistance in obtaining permanent housing, employment counseling, and nutritional counseling; providing security arrangements; and providing assistance in obtaining other public benefits.
Residents in these projects may be required to pay an occupancy charge. If so, the charge can be set up to the greater of the following amounts:
• 30% of the family's monthly "adjusted" income; or
• 10% of the family's monthly income.
Resident rent can be used in the operation of the project or may be reserved to assist residents of transitional housing move to permanent housing.
General Operation of the Projects
Accessibility. The housing must be accessible and capable of being used. Each resident must be given adequate space and security for themselves and their belongings. Each resident must have an acceptable place to sleep. The projects must meet certain occupancy and building standards to assure the health and safety of the residents.
Meals. All projects providing supportive housing for homeless individuals with disabilities must provide meals or meal preparation facilities for residents.
Involvement of the Homeless. To the maximum extent possible, the project must involve homeless persons and families in constructing, rehabilitating, maintaining, and operating the project. The homeless also can be involved in providing supportive services, through employment or volunteer services.
Termination of Housing Assistance
A project can terminate your assistance if you violate program requirements. They should do this only in the most severe cases. If a project terminates your assistance, it can later resume assistance to you.
When terminating your assistance, the project must give you due process rights. These rights include, at a minimum:
• A written notice containing a clear statement of the reasons for termination;
• A right to a review of the decision;
• An opportunity to present written or oral objections before a person other than the person (or subordinate) who made or approved the termination decision; and
• A prompt, written notice of the final decision.
The National Affordable Housing Act – Section 811
This is a program that gets its name from Section 811 of the National Affordable Housing Act. That is a federal law which establishes a program of supportive housing for very low-income persons with disabilities.
Its purpose is to provide federal money for operating costs and rental assistance for housing projects serving persons with disabilities.
Owners of Section 811 projects must make sure that the residents are provided with any necessary supportive services that address their individual needs. See definition of "supportive services" above.
Rental Assistance to Tenants
In Section 811 housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides rental assistance to tenants who are eligible persons with disabilities.
A "very low-income person" in Section 811 housing pays a reduced rent for his or her unit. If you are an eligible tenant, your rent is the higher of the following amounts:
• 30% of your "adjusted" monthly income; or
• 10% of your monthly income.
The rest of your rent is paid by a rent subsidy through a public housing agency.
Assistance to Non-profit Housing Providers
HUD also provides assistance to private, non-profit organizations that own Section 811 housing. This is done in order to expand the supply of supportive housing for persons with disabilities.
This assistance comes in the form of an advance of money. The advances are used to finance the acquisition, rehabilitation or construction of housing to be used as supportive housing for persons with disabilities. The projects also may receive monthly payments to cover part of the cost of the rent of very low-income tenants.
Who is Eligible for Section 811 Housing?
To be eligible for admission, you must be a "very low-income" family.
A family is "very low-income" if the income does not exceed 50 % of median family income for the area.
The term "person with disabilities" means a household composed of one or more persons at least one of whom is an adult who has a disability. You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical, mental or emotional impairment which:
• is expected to last indefinitely;
• substantially impedes your ability to live independently; and
• allows you to live independently if you had more suitable housing conditions.
You also are considered to have a disability if you:
• Have a "developmental disability", as defined in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. See the section of this guidebook titled "The Developmental Disabilities Programs", in Chapter 11, Independent Living and Productivity;
• Have a chronic mental illness; or
• Are infected with HIV.
Finally, to be eligible, you must meet the project occupancy requirements approved by HUD. In other words, your disability cannot be so severe that, even with supportive services, you are unable to benefit from the housing.
Requirement of Non-Discrimination
Owners must obey the Fair Housing Act and other federal, state and local laws that prohibit discrimination and promote equal opportunity. Owners must make their tenant selection without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national origin, family status, or disability.
If HUD approves, an owner can limit occupancy in the project to persons who have similar disabilities and require a similar set of supportive services. Even if the owner does that, and you have a different kind of disability, you cannot be excluded on the basis of your disability if you are capable of benefitting from that housing.
Tenant Selection Procedures
An owner of Section 811 housing must adopt written tenant selection procedures. These procedures must assure non-discrimination and must be approved by HUD.
Owners must keep a written waiting list showing the name, race, gender, ethnicity, and date of each person applying for the program.
If you are eligible and units are available, the owner will assign the household to a particular unit (or to residential space in a group home). The owner should assign you to a unit of the appropriate size, according to HUD's occupancy guidelines.
If no suitable unit is available, the owner will place you on a waiting list, and will notify you when a suitable unit becomes available. If its likely to take over a year before you would be admitted, the owner does not have to put you on a waiting list and can refuse to take additional applications.
If You are Rejected
If you have been rejected, the owner must promptly notify you of the reasons, in writing. You have the right to request a meeting to review the rejection. A member of the owner's staff who made the initial decision to reject you is not allowed to make the review.
If you think you have been discriminated against on the basis of your disability, you may have other claims, as discussed elsewhere in this guidebook.
The term of the lease cannot be less than one year. When the lease is over, the household and the owner can sign a new lease for term not less than one year, or can take no action. If no action is taken, the lease will automatically be renewed for successive terms of one month.
The owner must use the lease form approved by HUD.
You will be required to pay a security deposit. This can be no greater than one month's tenant payment, or $50, whichever is greater. There are other HUD rules regarding the owner's use of security deposits and your right to a refund.
Termination of Tenancy
In general, the owner cannot terminate your tenancy without good cause. Usually, this means that:
• You have seriously or repeatedly violated the lease; or
• You have engaged in certain criminal activities.
Any decision to terminate your tenancy must be given to you in writing. The termination notice must specify a date that the tenancy is terminated. It must tell you the specific reasons why this occurred. It must tell you that the owner can enforce the termination only by going to court, where you can present a defense.
Section 811 Projects must comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. See the previous sections of this Chapter.
In addition, the following requirements apply:
• All entrances and common areas must be readily accessible;
• In projects for persons with chronic mental illness, a minimum of 10% of all dwelling units in an independent living facility (or 10% of all bedrooms and bathrooms in a group home) must be designed to be accessible or adaptable;
• In projects for persons with developmental or physical disabilities, all dwelling units in an independent living facility (or all bedrooms and bathrooms in a group home) must be designed to be accessible or adaptable.
A unit or room is "adaptable" if it can be added to or altered so as to accommodate your needs.
Section 811 housing must be conveniently located so that it does not take an excessive amount of time or money to travel from the neighborhood to places of employment for very low-income workers. Projects should be located in neighborhoods where other family housing is located. They should not be next to other types of facilities for persons with disabilities.
This program gets its name from Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959. It provides direct federal loans for housing projects serving elderly or "handicapped" families and individuals.
A Section 202 loan must be used to finance the construction or the substantial rehabilitation of projects for these households. It also can be used to acquire existing housing for group homes for "handicapped" persons.
These housing projects must provide "necessary services" for its occupants.
The term "necessary services" may include: health, continuing education, welfare, informational, recreational, homemaking, meal and nutritional services, counseling, and referral services, as well as transportation where necessary to get access to these services.
Selection and Admission of Tenants
The owner of the project must adopt written tenant selection procedures. These procedures must make sure that tenants are selected without discrimination. The procedures must be consistent with the purpose of improving housing opportunities for very low-income elderly or "handicapped" persons.
Owners must maintain a written waiting list showing the name, race, gender, ethnicity and date of each person applying for the program.
There is an application process in which applicants must complete a certification of eligibility and consent to a release of information.
The term "handicapped family" is any family of:
• Two or more persons, where the head of the family (or spouse) is "handicapped;"
• A single "handicapped" person over the age of 18; or
• Two or more "handicapped" persons living together, or one "handicapped" person living with another person essential to his or her care.
The term "handicapped person" means the same thing as a "person with disabilities", as that term is used under the Section 811 Supportive Housing Program (see above).
To be eligible, you also must meet any project occupancy requirements approved by HUD. In other words, your disability cannot be so severe that, even with supportive services, you are unable to benefit from the housing.
Some units at a Section 202 project may be "assisted units." This means that HUD pays a subsidy to the owner to make up the difference between the contract rent and the amount of rent a low-income tenant must pay. To be eligible for an assisted unit, in addition to the above requirements, you must be low income or very low income, as defined by HUD.
If you are not in an assisted unit, you must pay the full contract rent.
The rules for unit assignment are the same as under the Section 811 Program (see above).
If You Are Rejected
The rules regarding your rights if you have been rejected are the same as under the Section 811 Program (see above).
Lease requirements are the same as under the Section 811 Program (see above).
Termination of Tenancy
The rules for termination of tenancy are the same as under the section 811 Program (see above).
The Purpose of Designated Public Housing
Section 7 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 provides public housing agencies with the option to designate certain "public housing projects," or portions of them, for occupancy by "disabled families" or mixed populations of "disabled families" and elderly families. Where such projects have been approved by HUD, persons with disabilities have a priority for admission to public housing and have special services available to them to meet their needs.
A "Public Housing Project" refers to low-income housing that is operated by a public housing authority (PHA), for which there is an annual contract between HUD and the PHA.
The decision of any "disabled" family not to occupy or accept occupancy in designated housing must not have any adverse affect on the family's admission to other public housing.
The term "disabled family" means a family whose head or spouse or sole member is a person with disabilities. The term may include two or more persons with disabilities living together.
You are a "person with a disability" if you are determined eligible by the Social Security Administration or if you have a physical, mental or emotional impairment which:
• Is expected to last indefinitely;
• Substantially impedes your ability to live independently; and
• Allows you to live independently if you had more suitable housing conditions.
You also are considered to be a person with a disability if you have a "developmental disability" or have HIV or AIDS.
Any PHA that has designated buildings or units for "disabled families" must have a "Supportive Service Plan," approved by HUD. The Plan must describe how the PHA will provide or arrange for the provision of appropriate supportive services for the "disabled families" who will occupy the designated housing and who have expressed a need for these services.
The term "supportive services" may include such things as: meal services, health-related services, mental health services, services for non-medical counseling, meals, transportation, personal care, bathing, toileting, housekeeping, chore assistance, safety, socializing, help with medications, and case management.
There are other government programs that provide low-cost housing to people with a "low-income." They are not necessarily supportive for people with disabilities. Some people with disabilities may qualify to live there. These programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); by the Rural Development Authority (RDA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal government agency that runs several rental housing programs, including:
• Public Housing: The tenant rents an apartment owned by a local public housing authority (PHA);
• Section 8 Voucher Housing: The tenant rents housing from a private landlord, and the PHA pays a portion of the rent; and
• Section 8 New Construction, Section 8 Substantial Rehabilitation , or Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation
The United States Department of Agriculture, RDA
The Rural Development Authority (RDA) is a federal agency that provides housing opportunities in rural areas. The RDA provides money to private real estate developers, who then lease the home or apartment at a reduced rent. The RDA also operates programs to assist in home ownership and home repair.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is a state agency that creates housing opportunity by providing real estate developers with funding to build multi-family housing. The developer then rents an apartment to a tenant at a reduced rent.
Joint Occupancy of Subsidized Housing by People With Disabilities
People with disabilities, even if they are not related to one another, are allowed to jointly occupy a subsidized house or apartment. This law applies to all housing programs operated by HUD and IHDA.
To be eligible for the benefit of this law, each of the tenants must be age 62 or over, or have a physical or mental impairment which is expected to last indefinitely and which substantially affects the ability to live independently. The tenants each must meet all of the other eligibility requirements of the subsidized housing program. Finally, the tenants are required to file a certificate with the county clerk of the county where the housing is located.
Statutes and Regulations
The Supportive Housing Program for people with disabilities in the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act can be found at 42 USCA §11381- 11389. The federal regulation for that program can be found at 24 CFR Part 583.
The Section 811 program of the National Affordable Housing Act can be found at 42 USCA 8013. The federal regulations for that program can be found at 24 CFR Part 891.
The federal regulations for the Section 202 Program also can be found at 24 CFR Part 891.
The designated public housing provisions of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 can be found at 42 USCA §1437e. The federal regulations for designated public housing can be found at 24 CFR Part 945.
The Subsidized Housing Joint Tenancy Act is found at 310 ILCS 75.
How to Locate Subsidized Housing Projects In Your Area
Housing projects that provide supportive services to people with disabilities will be designated in one of the above ways. For example, they will be described as Section 811 or Section 202 or as a combination of Section 202/811. These projects operate in a number of cities throughout the State of Illinois.
Lists of subsidized housing projects are available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You also may be able to get information about the existence of local housing projects from your local public housing authority (PHA).
To obtain a list of subsidized rental programs in your area:
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