February 1, 2005
HUD ISSUES NEW GUIDELINES TO PROMOTE GREATER HOUSING ACCESS FOR FAMILIES WITH DISABILITIES
Recommendations enhance President's New Freedom Initiative for Section 8 participants
WASHINGTON - Today the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued new guidelines to public housing authorities (PHAs) that identify ways they can better assist individuals with disabilities or families who have a disabled member in their search for accessible housing under the Housing Choice Vouchers program, formerly known as Section 8.
The notice is in response to President Bush's New Freedom Initiative and the Executive Order "Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals With Disabilities," which promotes full participation of persons with disabilities in all areas of society. Under the initiative and order, all government agencies are asked to take steps to increase and promote equal access to education, technology, employment and housing in their communities.
"We encourage housing authorities to use this guidance to ensure these families will be given the best shot at finding accessible housing in communities of their choice," said HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu.
The notice gives PHAs suggestions and information on how to administer their Housing Choice Vouchers programs that will help families with a disabled member find decent, accessible housing, including the following:
Longer voucher term: HUD encourages PHAs to give families with a disabled member more time to find accessible units. Currently PHAs must give all families at least 60 days to find a unit. A PHA may approve a longer term if necessary.
Provide referral and housing search services: In addition to providing a list of accessible units in the community, PHAs are asked to provide a list of local support service organizations that can provide additional services, such as funding for moving expenses. PHAs may also offer specialized housing search assistance.
Form alliances: PHAs are encouraged to work with other local government or private agencies that are accustomed to working with this population in setting policies and sharing resources. PHAs may set a preference for admission with families with a disabled member. State Medicaid agencies can be a valuable PHA resource to assist persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of nursing homes or other institutional settings.
For more information about the New Freedom Initiative go to www.hhs.gov/newfreedom.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.