We’re a little late to this party, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive us. Today, we’re going over the findings in Priced Out, a housing report released by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) on Monday, June 20.
The report examined Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is targeted at disabled adults who have limited income and resources. Specifically, SSI is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenue to help blind, aged, and disabled people who have little or no income and provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Unfortunately, as the TAC report found, monthly SSI benefits amount to approximately $674/month. State supplements bring the national average up to $703/month. This is still low enough to be priced out of every single rental housing market in the country for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the report.
Even in more affordable rental markets, even for studio/efficiency housing units, rents are at least 60 percent of total monthly SSI benefits, including state supplements. This is far above the 30 percent mark, which defines of “affordable housing” and even above the 50 percent mark, which is the threshold for experiencing “severe housing cost burden.” As a national average, a person receiving SSI benefits would need to pay 112 percent of their monthly income to rent a modest, one-bedroom apartment.
As people interested in homelessness and homeless programs and policy, we know that severe housing cost burden and poverty put people at risk of experiencing homelessness; it seems that SSI recipients experience both. In order to make this federal program work for the people it serves, we need to respect the dignity of the program’s constituents and not relegate them to a life of poverty.
As of 2010, over 4.4 million non-elderly adults rely on SSI payments. Out of Reach suggests that over 1.2 million non-elderly people live in homeless shelters, public institutions, nursing homes, other care homes, or segregated group quarters. An estimated 700,000 are doubled up with aging parents.
In order to serve these millions of people with disabilities, we need to better assess the housing needs of this community and work to meet them in a productive way. Find out more about this report and SSI by reading the report, available on the TAC website.