WASHINGTON, DC – December 22, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that will expand affordable housing options for Americans with disabilities. The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act, sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) in the Senate and Representatives Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Judy Biggert (R-IL) in the House, will likely quadruple the number of new affordable rental units built each year for people with disabilities by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s main program to provide affordable housing for people with disabilities. The bill accomplishes this while maintaining the current level of funding for that program by allowing non-profit and private housing developers to use the same financing options that most other HUD programs already use. The legislation was approved in the Senate unanimously last week and now heads to the President to be signed into law.
“At a time when more than 12 million Americans — including 1.3 million with disabilities — spend more than half of their income on rent, the Frank Melville Act will help ensure that people with disabilities can keep a roof over their heads,” said Menendez, who is Chairman of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. “People with disabilities often face harder obstacles in accessing affordable housing that allows them to live independently, and that problem is worse in tough economic times. The Frank Melville Act will help make a difference in the lives of Americans with disabilities, and I’m proud to have championed it in the Senate.”
“Reasonably priced housing is a critical piece of the puzzle for courageous people who are overcoming disabilities and seeking to become independent,” said Johanns. “This bill will streamline efforts to provide them adequate and affordable homes and ensure no one slips through the cracks. I’m pleased my colleagues agreed that this bill is the right direction to provide stability for these vulnerable citizens.”
The legislation would reform HUD’s Section 811 program by:
• Approximately quadrupling the number of new rental homes to low-income people with disabilities using the same level of appropriations.
• Allowing people with disabilities to live independently rather than in more expensive institutions
• Allowing people with disabilities to live in developments that are integrated with people who do not have disabilities rather than being segregated
• Modernizing and integrating the financing of Section 811 housing with other affordable housing tools, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME program funds, Community Development Block Grants, and bond financing.
• Create needed construction jobs in building homes for people with disabilities.
The bill has been endorsed by a broad coalition of advocacy groups including:
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, American Network of Community Options and Resources, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Burton Blatt Institute, Easter Seals, Lutheran Services in America, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, National Disability Rights Network, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, The Arc of the United States, United Cerebral Palsy, United Jewish Communities, and United Spinal Association.