RI Delegation Announces $5.6 Million to Improve Disability Housing Assistance

Feb 26, 2015 Issues: Disabilities, Health Care, Housing, Rhode Island

In an effort to ensure that Rhode Islanders with disabilities and special needs have access to affordable rental housing and supportive services, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that Rhode Island Housing will receive a federal boost of over $5.6 million. The federal funds are being awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) program, an initiative the delegation supported through a 2010 law designed to prevent homelessness and expand rental assistance for people with disabilities. Rhode Island Housing will administer the program through a partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) and Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS).

Rhode Island Housing, in coordination with the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services and BHDDH, will select properties for PRA assistance, identify individuals to integrate into mainstream housing, and provide community-based support services to those individuals. These funds will help move some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable residents from homelessness or institutional settings into an estimated 150 affordable homes.

“It is imperative that we increase and preserve affordable rental housing opportunities for Rhode Islanders. This is a smart investment that will help more Rhode Islanders with disabilities live independently in the community with dignity and security,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of both the Banking Committee, which oversees federal housing policy and the Ranking Member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending for HUD programs. Senator Reed has strongly supported funding for Section 811 Programs.

“This funding will help Rhode Islanders with disabilities find good homes in their communities and lead more independent lives,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I congratulate Rhode Island Housing on a successful grant application and look forward to the benefits it will bring Rhode Islanders.”

“Affordable housing is a cornerstone of a strong middle class and the foundation on which families build their lives. It affects health, employment, child welfare and so much more, and I am thrilled that more Rhode Island families – and individuals with disabilities in particular – will have access to safe and sustainable housing thanks to these federal funds,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“Ensuring Rhode Islanders with disabilities and special needs have safe and affordable housing and the resources and support they need to thrive in the community is an essential step towards promoting healthy communities in our state,” said Congressman David Cicilline.  “I was pleased to work with my colleagues in the delegation to secure this federal funding and I look forward to continuing to partner with Rhode Island Housing to help support communities all across our state.”

“Rhode Island Housing is pleased to work with our state partners to provide safe, affordable housing and support services that will ensure dignity and independence for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Barbara Fields, acting executive director of Rhode Island Housing. “We are grateful to Senator Reed and our federal delegation for their commitment to making Rhode Island a national leader in providing affordable housing to residents in need.”

The appropriations acts for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 provided a total of $120 million to fund HUD’s Section 811 PRA program. A total of 34 states and the District of Columbia applied for this funding, and HUD selected 25 applications for funding awards.

The rental assistance funds are provided to state housing entities that have formed partnerships with state Medicaid and health and human services agencies that have developed methods for identifying, referring, and conducting outreach to a target population of extremely low-income persons with disabilities requiring long term services and supports. These operating funds will be used to set aside supportive units for this target population in affordable housing complexes whose capital costs are funded through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME funds, or other sources.