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Justice Center assists state housing finance agency obtain $12 million to advance integration of persons with disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Health and Human Services announced the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance demonstration awards in February, granting Texas one of the two largest grants given to the states competing for the funding.  According to HUD, close to $98 million has been awarded to thirteen state housing finance agencies to provide rental assistance to extremely low-income persons with disabilities, many of whom are transitioning out of institutional settings or are at high risk of homelessness.  Texas and North Carolina each received $12 million.

The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 authorized the new project’s rental assistance authority, which provides funding for rental assistance for persons with disabilities in accessing integrated, accessible, quality housing units.  Prior federal policy had been to fund the development of projects built solely for persons with disabilities. The rental assistance funds will further the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act, interpreted by the Supreme Court in 1999 to require that state and local governments support people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs.

The Texas pilot is unique in its three-fold focus on those exiting institutional care, those with mental illness at risk of homelessness, and foster youth with disabilities transitioning to independent living.  The Justice Center’s work on the project was spearheaded by Lucille Wood, in partnership with the UT Center for Disability Studies and De Mayo Associates. The team’s work was funded by a grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Contact: Eden Harrington, director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, UT Law, 512-232-7068, eharrington@law.utexas.edu.

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