Public Housing:

Impact of Designated Public Housing on Persons With Disabilities

RCED-98-160: Published: Jun 9, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 1998.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed: (1) the impact of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 on the availability of public housing for persons with disabilities; (2) how incremental Section 8 certificates and vouchers that were made available since the passage of the 1992 act were assisting persons with disabilities seeking affordable rental housing; and (3) the number of households that may meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) definition for persons with disabilities.

GAO noted that: (1) provisions of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 allowing public housing authorities to designate units as elderly-only have had little impact on the availability of public housing for people with disabilities; (2) 73 of the 3,200 public housing authorities had allocation plans approved by HUD as of November 1, 1997, allowing them to designate 24,902 of their units as elderly-only, approximately 36 percent of their housing stock for the elderly and persons with disabilities; (3) nearly all of these designated units had been available previously to tenants who were elderly or who had disabilities but were younger than 62; (4) the number of elderly residents and residents with disabilities in these and other housing units for which they were eligible had not changed substantially since the housing authorities began submitting allocation plans; (5) the number of younger tenants with disabilities living in housing designated for the elderly had declined by about 1,100 at the 53 housing authorities that provided complete occupancy data; (6) designating public housing units as elderly-only may have more impact in the future, depending on how many more housing authorities opt to do so and on what the housing alternatives are for younger people with disabilities; (7) it is too soon to determine the extent to which the Section 8 rental certificates and vouchers set aside for persons with disabilities have helped meet housing needs; (8) of approximately 3,000 certificates and vouchers that were available to housing authorities November 1, 1997, the authorities reported that they issued about 1,600 to persons with disabilities who used 1,162 to obtain private rental housing; (9) about 18 percent of the users had been living in public housing that had been designated for the elderly--indicating little movement by persons with disabilities residing in housing now designated as elderly-only; (10) how successful rental certificates and vouchers will be in providing housing alternatives for people with disabilities will be influenced by several factors, including statutory restrictions, local housing markets, and willingness of tenants with disabilities to use certificates and vouchers; and (11) according to housing authorities, those persons with disabilities who used certificates and vouchers required greater assistance than other recipients.

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