Study Finds HUD Inadequately Meets the Needs of Disabled Households

A study published in Housing Policy Debate entitled “The Characteristics and Unmet Housing Program Needs of Disabled HUD-Assisted Households” finds a mismatch between the housing needs of people with a disability and HUD programs. According to the study, 70 percent of extremely low-income (ELI) households with a disability are not served by HUD programs, and a high percentage of those who receive HUD assistance still have unmet accessibility needs. Seventy percent of households with a disability living in public housing, for example, did not receive a requested disability-related accommodation.

The study also finds that 36 percent of all ELI households and 34 percent of ELI renter households include a person with a disability. Seventy percent of all ELI households with a disability and 53 percent of ELI renter households with a disability do not receive HUD assistance, indicating that a large number of potentially eligible households are not served by HUD programs.

Also, a significant share of HUD-assisted households with a disability live in housing that is potentially not accessible. For example:

  • Ninety-two percent of 481,328 public housing households with a disability do not live in an accessible unit.
  • Seventy percent of 48,000 public housing households who requested a disability-related accommodation did not receive one; and
  • In HUD’s multifamily programs (Section 202 for the elderly, Section 811 for people with disabilities, Section 236, and Section 8 new construction/substantial rehab) 52 percent of households with a disability live in properties not designated for people with disabilities.

These findings indicate potentially unmet program needs for accessible housing.

The authors recommend community outreach to identify and recruit people with a disability who may be eligible for HUD assistance. They recognize that sites designated for people with disabilities, specifically HUD 811 properties, may be at odds with the goal of community integration for people with disabilities.

The authors make a few suggestions and recommendations:

  • Balance the goal of integration with the goal of matching HUD-assisted households to appropriate accommodations;
  • Gather better data about disability accommodations in HUD-assisted properties;
  • Collect data on the specific disabilities of HUD-assisted persons and on the accessible units requested and provided. This data would provide a better picture of unmet needs within HUD programs.