Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee
March 1, 2011
Testimony to Senate Finance Committee
On Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
by Belinda Carlton
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and consists of a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. Other council members represent various state agencies that provide services to people with significant disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on 2011-12 funding for Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, particularly the Housing Trust Fund that supports critical housing needs of extremely low-income Texans with disabilities. The Amy Young Program within the Housing Trust Fund is designed to provide one time grants for up to $15,000 in home modifications specifically needed for accessibility, and up to an additional $5,000 in other rehabilitation costs correlated with the barrier removal project. These funds allow for reasonable accommodation or modification for rental tenants, homeowners or a member of their household with disabilities needing assistance to fully access their home. Eligible modifications for accessibility will include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Door widening and counter adjustments.
- Buzzing or flashing devices (for people with visual/hearing impairment).
- Accessible door and faucet handles.
- Accessible showers, toilets and sinks.
Providing grants instead of loans to low-income elderly or adults with disabilities is essential. Because these individuals most often live on fixed incomes or SSI at $674 a month, home accessibility modifications are beyond their means, whether the cost is $1,000 or tops the limit at $15,000. But, the investment in home accessibility modifications can keep an adult or frail elderly person in their home, safe and productive, and out of a nursing home that costs an average of $44,000 per year. With our rapidly aging population we must offer alternatives including accessible home environments that increase mobility and reduce the need for care. The more accessible the home environment is, the greater the possibility to remain at home for the long term.
Public Policy Specialist