Tell Congress to support housing for people with mental illness

This week, U.S. Senators are signing on to letters to Senate leadership in support of their 2019 budget priorities. NAMI’s priorities are the subject of several of these letters. 

Today, we need your help to support housing programs. 

Having a safe and stable place to call home is critical to recovery for people with mental illness. Yet, many people with severe mental health conditions have limited or no income and cannot afford housing. 

Without federal rental assistance and other affordable housing programs, many people with severe mental health conditions face homelessness and incarceration. 

“My 24-year-old son, who has schizophrenia, has subsidized housing. There is staff on-site 24/7. It means he can live independently, but there is always help available if he needs it. It means that my husband and I can run our small business without having to worry about him constantly.” -Teresa, Maine

You can help.

Ask your U.S. Senators to sign onto Senator Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) letter in support of federal housing programs that help people with mental illness get back on their feet, into treatment and on the path to recovery.

Act today. The deadline for your Senators to sign-on is Monday, April 16.



Below is Senator Menendez’s sign-on letter:


Letter to leaders of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Dear Chair Collins and Ranking Member Reed:

As you consider the Fiscal Year 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we urge you to support the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 202 and 811 programs for seniors and persons with disabilities.  We respectfully request: $619 million for renewal funding and $210 million for capital advance and project-based rental assistance awards for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program; and $313 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, to include $83 million for project rental assistance awards.  Section 202 and 811 funding supports the development of new housing and the continuation of rental assistance for very low-income seniors and persons with disabilities.  We are grateful for the Committee’s funding increases for both programs in Fiscal Year 2018.

Section 202 provides a sensible and necessary approach to meeting our nation’s growing affordable housing needs for seniors.  As HUD’s most recent Worst Case Housing Needs Report finds, 1.47 million very low-income elderly households are paying more than 50 percent of their income in rent.  Moreover, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Healthy Aging Begins at Home report, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double by 2030 and Americans over the age of 85 make up the fastest-growing age group in the United States.

By leveraging other funding sources, combining affordable housing with access to supportive services, and focusing on the most vulnerable segments of the population, the Section 202 program helps more seniors to live independently and age in place.  To date, Section 202 has helped produce nearly 400,000 homes for low-income seniors.  We believe that continued investment in low-income affordable housing for the elderly is both cost-effective and critical to ensuring seniors can live in supportive, decent, and affordable housing.

HUD’s Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program targets vulnerable persons with disabilities who need affordable housing in order to effectively access community-based support and services.  Without Section 811 housing, HUD reports that many of those served by the program would be forced to live in an institution, with aging parents, in a homeless shelter, or on the streets.  According to HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs Report, about one in seven renters with “worst case” housing needs – meaning they had incomes below half of the median in their area and paid more than half their monthly incomes in rent, lived in severely substandard conditions, or both – included a nonelderly person with disabilities.  This funding level will allow the Department to renew all current rental assistance as well as fund new project rental assistance awards supporting affordable units for persons with disabilities.

Federal investments in affordable housing for the nation’s most vulnerable holds promise for significantly reducing Medicaid and Medicare costs while also providing low-income elderly the opportunity to age in place and persons with disabilities the opportunity to live in the most integrated setting possible.

As Congress makes difficult decisions about our nation’s budget, we encourage you to continue bipartisan support of protecting our most needy and vulnerable populations.  We thank you for your attention and consideration.


Thanks for your support!
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