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HUD Rental Assistance: Serving Households with Disabilities

GAO-23-106339 Published: Mar 29, 2023. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Finding affordable, accessible rental housing can be difficult for low-income households that have a family member with a disability.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has rental assistance programs that can help. But a lot of affordable housing is aging and has to be modified to work for these families.

We looked at HUD's rental assistance programs, how many households with disabilities they served, and if their housing had features like ramps or lifts.

Examples of housing modifications to increase accessibility.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided rental assistance to an estimated 1.8 million households with disabilities, according to the 2019 American Housing Survey (survey). HUD primarily served these households through the Housing Choice Voucher, public housing, and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs. Most HUD-assisted households with a member using a mobility device (such as a wheelchair) reported living in units with at least one accessibility feature (such as an entry-level bedroom). However, more than 300,000 assisted households with a member using a mobility device reported living in units without any accessibility features, according to the 2019 survey.

Providers of HUD-assisted housing are required to provide reasonable accommodations—such as structural modifications—to allow households with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in HUD rental assistance programs. Housing providers also must use strategies, such as waitlist priorities, to match households with disabilities with units that meet their needs.

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO was asked to examine HUD assistance for households with disabilities. Low-income households with disabilities can face challenges in securing affordable, accessible housing. This report provides information on how HUD serves low-income households (those with incomes at or below 80 percent of their areas' median income) with disabilities through its rental assistance programs.

For more information, contact Alicia Puente Cackley at (202) 512-8678 or

Full Report

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Assistance programsFair housingHousingHousing assistanceHousing for the disabledHousing programsPhysical disabilitiesPublic housingLow-income householdsConstruction