If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may wonder if housing assistance is provided at some point during or after the application process. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and many people become homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless while they wait for a final decision on their disability benefits.
Fortunately, there are other avenues to explore housing assistance. Through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal government offers a voucher program called Section 8 to help with housing; however, the vouchers are often limited to families with children, and there is always a long waitlist.
The Section 811 program was designed to help disabled individuals find safe and affordable housing options so that they can live as independently as possible in their communities. The program provides subsidies and capital advances interest-free to encourage nonprofit development companies to offer affordable housing, and it gives individuals project rental assistance through state housing agencies.
To qualify for Section 811 housing, certain criteria must be met. At least one adult member of the household must live with a disability, such as a chronic mental illness, developmental disability, or serious physical handicap. Additionally, the household must be very low-income, which is usually measured as within a set percentage (often 30-50%) of the median income for the area.
Participants in the project rental assistance program will have their rent subsidized. It will pay the difference between the HUD-approved operating costs of the building and what the disabled tenant can afford to pay in rent. The initial term of the contract is for three years, and it can be renewed beyond that as long as the funds exist, and the household continues to qualify for the services. In addition to the housing and rental assistance, Section 811 provides ancillary help in the form of referrals, free advice, supportive services, and case management.
If you or someone you love is in danger of experiencing homelessness, you may also contact the National Supportive Housing Network. This nonprofit organization’s mission is to increase availability to safe and stable housing options for low-income individuals living with disabilities. They coordinate programs and resources throughout the country, and can help ease stress during critical times.