National Alliance on Mental Illness
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November 21, 2001

HUD Releases 2001 Funds for the Homeless Disability
Voucher and Section 811 Programs

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the award of nearly $240 million in funding for FY 2001 for capital advances and rental vouchers targeted to non-elderly people with disabilities -- including adults with severe mental illnesses. These funds include grants to non-profit disability organizations and rental vouchers for non-elderly people with disabilities that will go to successful housing authorities and non-profits as part of HUD's FY 2001 budget cycle. On November 20, HUD also released to states and localities their 2001 allocations under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act - including more than $300 million in permanent housing programs serving homeless adults with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. All of these funds are part of HUD's FY 2001 budget (i.e., funds for the recently completed federal fiscal year). Congress recently completed action on the agency's FY 2002 budget, details of which can be found in NAMI ENews November 11, 2001.

The 2001 funding awards announced by HUD in recent weeks for non-elderly people with disabilities fall into several major categories based on program eligibility and form of assistance (rental vouchers v. grants to non-profits). What all of these programs have in common is that only qualified low-income non-elderly people with disabilities - including individuals with severe mental illnesses - can receive assistance. For each of these programs, either housing authorities, state and local housing/community development agencies or non-profit disability organizations (as opposed to individuals) apply directly to HUD in order access funds, and then administer assistance at the local level. Interested individual consumers, family members, case managers and others should therefore refer to these referenced awardee lists to determine which local programs in a given state or community have received funding in 2001.

Section 811 Capital Advance/Project-Based Assistance Program
On October 31, HUD announced the release of FY 2001 funding for the Section 811 Capital Advance/Project-Based Assistance Program. This program consists of capital grants to non-profit disability organizations to rehabilitate or construct community-based congregate housing for non-elderly people with disabilities and project-based assistance to cover the difference between the cost of operating the property and resident contributions. Funds can be used to develop congregate or scattered site housing for non-elderly people with all types of disabilities, including severe mental illnesses. For 2001, HUD has awarded nearly $150 million in funds to 248 successful applicant non-profits.  View this HUD press release for a list of the winning applicants, with summaries of their projects (including number of units and target disability populations).

Section 811 Mainstream Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
The Section 811 Mainstream program consists of Section 8 tenant-based rental vouchers that are set-aside specifically for people with disabilities. Since 1997, Congress has allowed HUD to transfer up to 25 percent of the overall Section 811 program away from capital advances/project-based assistance, to tenant-based vouchers. Rental vouchers enable recipients to get apartments by paying generally no more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent - the voucher from HUD pays the remainder.

Traditionally, only housing authorities have been able to apply directly to HUD to receive and administer vouchers at the local level - eligible low-income households (including individuals) apply to housing authorities to get vouchers. However, in the Section 811 Mainstream voucher program non-profit disability organizations have been able to apply, both this year and last year (Congress has directed HUD to again allow non-profits to apply in FY 2002). NAMI pushed hard to ensure that non-profit disability groups can apply - both to ensure that adults with severe mental illnesses are not discriminated against, and to keep 811 as a program focused on non-profits that have a better understanding of the housing and community support needs of people with severe disabilities.

For 2001, HUD awarded just over $50 million in funds for the Section 811 Mainstream program. Several non-profit organizations with expertise in serving adults with severe mental illnesses received Section 811 Mainstream funding in 2001, including the Boley Centers for Behavioral Heath (St. Petersburg, FL), Greater Lynn Mental Health and Mental Retardation (Lynn, MA), East Carolina Human Services (Jacksonville, NC) and Community Connections (Washington, DC). A full list of the 2001 Section 811 Mainstream awardees can be viewed in PDF format.

Section 8 Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Related to Certain Developments ("Certain Developments")
In the early 1990s, Congress passed legislation which permits HUD-assisted housing providers to limit or exclude people with disabilities from living in certain subsidized housing developments by designating that housing as "elderly only." These housing developments contain virtually all of the studio and one bedroom federally subsidized housing units in the country and represent over two-thirds of the federally subsidized housing resources that low-income people with disabilities were eligible to access prior to the passage of this legislation. Non-elderly individuals with severe mental illnesses have been particularly disadvantaged in many communities across the country as private owners of assisted housing have changed tenant selection policies to exclude people with disabilities.

Since 1997, Congress has funded tenant-based vouchers to make up the loss of assisted housing for which non-elderly people with disabilities could apply. For FY 2001, HUD was to have allocated $20 million for the "Certain Development" pot of vouchers. Unlike the Section 811 Mainstream voucher program, only PHAs are able to apply for this "Certain Development" allocation of Section 8 vouchers for people with disabilities. Because HUD and applicant PHAs have very limited capacity to track which private owners of assisted housing have shifted their tenant selection policies since 1993 to disfavor non-elderly people with disabilities, the agency has experienced difficulties in allocating funds for these vouchers. Note - for three years, HUD has failed to conduct a congressionally mandated inventory of which properties have shifted to "elderly only".

As a result, HUD has been able to fund all eligible applications from PHAs for this funding. Thus, the chances of a PHA being awarded this funding are very good. Because of the extremely low number of PHA applicants, each year there has been money left over after all of the qualifying applications were awarded, signaling to the disability community that more pressure needs to be put on local PHAs to educate them about this funding opportunity. The money that is left in this "pot" after awards have been made is then rolled into the Section 811 Mainstream Program, described above, but is only available to PHA applicants as one year grants, and not non-profit disability organizations. This is another reason why non-profit disability organizations who are interested in administering Section 811 Mainstream Vouchers may choose to engage in a partnership with a PHA, since PHAs have a better chance of being funded.

A full list of the PHAs awarded funds under the "Certain Developments" allocation of Section 8 vouchers for people with disabilities for 2001 can be viewed in PDF format.

Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities in Support of Designated Public Housing Plans ("Designated Housing" Vouchers)
Since 1992, federal government policy has permitted PHAs to implement "elderly only" housing policies in federal public housing units. Once these housing developments are designated "elderly only," people with disabilities under age 62 are no longer eligible to move in, or are only eligible for a small set-aside of units in each project.

PHAs seeking to designate units (or entire buildings) as "elderly only" must submit Allocation Plans to HUD. As a part of the Allocation Plan, PHAs must assure HUD that they will provide other resources for people with disabilities (including individuals with severe mental illnesses) to make up for this loss of affordable housing. PHAs have the choice of using existing resources to assist people with disabilities who were negatively impacted by "elderly only" housing policies, or they can apply for these Section 8 vouchers in order to increase the housing opportunities for people with disabilities in the community.

For FY 2001, HUD allocated $20 million for the "Designated Housing" pot of vouchers targeted to non-elderly people with disabilities. Unfortunately, HUD has awarded these vouchers to only 15 PHAs in 2001. This is disturbing given that 50 public housing Allocation Plans have been approved by HUD in 2001 (only 6 of these PHAs were actually awarded vouchers as part of the 2001 allocation). In other words, the vast majority of the 50 PHAs that successfully sought designate public housing as "elderly only" (and thereby prospectively exclude people with disabilities, including individuals with severe mental illnesses) did not even ask HUD for available vouchers to make up for housing being lost to people with disabilities. Further, HUD appears to have made little or no effort to insist that these PHAs ask for vouchers as a condition of approval for their Allocation Plan application.

A complete list of PHAs receiving awards under the "Designated Housing" voucher program in PDF format: Note:additional information on the current status of efforts by PHAs and private owners of assisted housing to designate affordable housing resources as "elderly only" is available in the most recent issue of "Opening Doors" . NAMI would like to gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Ann O'Hara and Emily Miller at the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) in Boston, MA for compiling a comprehensive analysis of the 2001 funding awards for these disability housing programs. NAMI would also like to thank the Melville Charitable Trust for supporting the collaboration between NAMI and the Technical Assistance Collaborative on affordable housing issues affecting people with severe mental illnesses and other disabilities.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act Funding for FY 2001
On November 20, HUD formally released nearly $1 billion in funding to states and localities for homeless programs - including funding for permanent supportive housing for individuals with severe mental illnesses and services for homeless individuals and families. While these funds are distributed through state and local governments, over 90 percent of funds are eventually directed through non-profit organizations at the community level that compete for funds through a planning process known as the "Continuum of Care." In addition, HUD has also announced the release of $150 million for the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program.

Of particular importance to NAMI is the more than $300 million in the McKinney-Vento program for development of permanent supportive housing for people with severe mental illnesses (and co-occurring substance abuse disorders) who experience chronic homelessness. These programs (including Shelter Plus Care and SHP supportive housing) have proven very effective in ending homelessness for people with severe disabilities. For FY 2001, HUD has also directed $76 million for renewal of expiring rent subsidies under the Shelter Plus Care program. Congress added these funds to the HUD budget to ensure that current tenants in Shelter Plus Care housing do not end up becoming homeless again through no fault of their own.

Read for More information on the 2001 allocation of McKinney-Vento funds (including sate-by-state allocations).  Further details on permanent supportive housing projects funded at the local level has yet to be released on the HUD website. However, most HUD field offices and agencies responsible for state and local Continuum of Care applications have already been, or will soon be, notified as to which projects have received FY 2001 funds. More information on the Continuum of Care process