June 28, 2010
Gordon Anderson (512) 475-4743
State housing agency builds off successful program, seeks additional vouchers for persons with disabilities
(AUSTIN) — The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) today announced that it will seek to significantly increase the number of rental housing vouchers it annually makes available to assist persons with disabilities transitioning out of nursing facilities and other institutional settings into private housing. The Department anticipates that this move will significantly increase the independence and quality of life for an estimated 100 Texans with disabilities.
TDHCA is requesting authority from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to increase the number of Project Access housing choice vouchers it administers from 60 to 100, meaning greater numbers of people with disabilities will be able to access affordable rental housing each year. HUD is the federal agency which provides the Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers used by Project Access. In addition, the Department will also seek to alter the number of vouchers set aside by age groups.
“Texas’ Project Access program has been recognized nationwide by numerous advocates for persons with disabilities as a model program for providing Texans with disabilities an opportunity to live life on their own terms, and we want to expand this remarkable initiative to significantly improve the quality of life for all,” said Michael Gerber, TDHCA Executive Director. “The need is certainly there and we hope that federal officials will agree that the need for this assistance remains great and grants us this request.”
The highly successful Project Access program utilizes Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers administered by TDHCA to assist non-elderly (under age 62) low income persons with disabilities in transitioning from institutions into the community by providing access to affordable rental housing. TDHCA works in concert with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to administer this program.
Staff with DADS is responsible for identifying individuals living in nursing facilities eligible to participate in the program and referring them to TDHCA, as well as for providing appropriate supportive services. TDHCA is responsible for ensuring individuals are eligible to receive a housing voucher and for transferring the voucher to the appropriate public housing authority of the city or county where the individual wishes to live.
Project Access program was developed in response to the Olmstead v L.C. Supreme Court decision that requires states to provide services to persons with disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions. The program, first utilized in 2002, began with just 35 vouchers.
Because over 50 percent of individuals transitioning out of nursing homes are over the age of 60, TDHCA has signaled to its disability advisory committee and other groups advocating on behalf of people with disabilities that it would petition HUD to transfer some of the existing Project Access Vouchers to those over 62 years of age.
The increase from 60 to 100 vouchers would allow TDHCA to increase the number of vouchers for the current recipients of Project Access, as well as allowing the Department to provide 20 vouchers to the aging population that also need affordable housing to successfully transition back into the community.
These requests will be included in TDHCA’s Public Housing Authority Action Plan, which must be submitted to HUD no later than October 18, 2010. The Department anticipates that it could receive HUD approval on both the voucher increase and transfer requests by January 2011.
About the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs administers a number of state and federal programs through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to strengthen communities through affordable housing development, homeownership opportunities, weatherization, and community-based services for Texans in need.
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