Input provided to the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs
February 1, 2012
From: Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
Re: 2012 DRAFT State of Texas Low Income Housing Plan and Annual Report
Thank you for allowing the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) to provide comments on the 2012 DRAFT State of Texas Low Income Housing Plan and Annual Report (SLIHP).
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 who 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.
TDHCA’s enabling legislation, Government Code, Title 10, §2306.002 finds that: every resident of this state should have a decent, safe and affordable living environment. Texans with developmental disabilities who are limited to a fixed income of SSI, currently $714 per month, or around 15% of area median income, are residents who should have the same opportunity for a decent, safe and affordable living environment as other low-income Texans. Failure to provide housing affordable to people with developmental disabilities impedes the success of state health and human services programs to provide services and support to individuals in their communities of their choice rather than in institutional settings such as nursing homes, state mental hospitals, state supported living centers and private intermediate care facilities (ICFs) that consume a disproportionate share of limited public resources.
- Recommendation 1: TDHCA stated a priority “to provide assistance to individuals and families of low and very low incomes who are not assisted by private enterprise or other governmental programs so that they may obtain affordable housing or other services and programs offered by the department.”(SHLIP, page 4-5) should be amended to add extremely low income.
According to the 2102 DRAFT SLIHP, 1.1 million households with family members with disabilities have “worst-case housing needs,” defined by HUD as unassisted renters with income below 50% of their area’s median income who pay more than half of their income for housing or live in severely inadequate housing, or both.” HUD also finds that worst case needs among very low-income renters with disabilities have increased from 38 to 41 percent and that two-thirds of unassisted very low-income renter households with disabilities have worst-case housing needs. Further, according to the National Council on Disability (2010) the incidence of poverty is much higher for persons ages 25 to 64 with a severe disability (27%).
- Recommendation 2: The SHLIP should include in Policy Driven Action for People with Special Needs (page 249) that TDHCA programs will target incomes between 0 and 110% of the level of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) so Texas can monitor, plan for, and allocate resources to people with developmental or mental health disabilities and those who are frail elderly who are a priority of state housing programs, but slipping through the cracks.
Although the SLIHP reports that approximately 83 percent of Texans with disabilities now live in urban areas due to the need to access transportation that is in close proximity to health related and other services and supports, this finding should not be used to limit siting of affordable housing. The SLIHP goes on to report that Texas lacks a sufficient stock of deeply affordable and/or accessible housing located within access of services or transportation to meet the needs of individuals living on a fixed income. Supportive of this statement in the SLIHP, HUD’s letter of acceptance of the Phase 1 of the Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing, dated May 13, 2011, finds that TDHCA should address the relationship of housing and transportation access, finding that transportation barriers seve as an impediment to fair housing that should be remedied.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are eight large urban, 30 small urban, and 39 rural transportation systems and over 135 operators of transportation services for elderly and individuals with disabilities. As such, the plan needs to identify a priority that low-income housing options should be located where there is public transportation. This will be to the benefit of low income beneficiaries of TDHCA housing programs with or without disabilities.
- Recommendation 3: The SHLIP should include in Policy Driven Action for People with Special Needs (page 249) a plan to increase housing opportunities where urban and rural transportations sytems are located.
In the Fair Housing section of the SLIHP, page 242, TDHCA reports that Phase 1 of the AI was approved by HUD on May 13, 2011, and that Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in early 2012. The second phase will be a statewide analysis of fair housing impediments. Phase 2 must also respond to the already identified barriers noted in the first phase and to any future barriers identified. HUD reported that Phase 1 found 16 areas of impediments to fair housing in the limited scope of the 63 hurricane impacted counties. These impediments should inform the SLIHP. For instance, the relationship of housing and transportation access and the finding that Phase 1 did not provide evidence of a review process accessible to individuals with disabilities was noted in that report and should be remedied in Phase 2 of the AI.
- Recommendation 4: Since the SLIHP plan is both a low-income housing plan and an annual report, TDHCA should include a summary of the findings in Phase 1 and the department’s planned solutions to address these issues.
- Recommendation 5: An objective should be added by TDHCA to explore how the current guidelines developed for housing programs can be modified to support the development of more integrated, affordable, and accessible units for individuals with disabilities.
In conclusion, TCDD appreciates the agency’s involvement in addressing housing needs for low-income Texans with developmental disabilities and has provided these comments to help strengthen the state’s efforts to provide affordable, accessible, and appropriate housing critical and integral to making a community more livable for all Texans, including Texans with disabilities.
Belinda Carlton, CPM
TCDD Public Policy Specialist