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People With Serious Mental Illness Remain Priced Out Of Housing

12/20/2017 | NAMI

“Having a stable place to live is the most important part of my recovery and stabilizing my mental health. It has allowed me to gain strength and knowledge on my disorder and get it under control knowing that my basic needs were met and stable too. Having housing has allowed me to be a productive volunteer as well as an employee.”

—Stacey, Colorado

Having a safe and stable place to call home is a critical component of recovery for people with mental illness. But according to a newly released report by the Technical Assistance Collaborative Inc. in partnership with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force, “Priced Out: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities”, America’s current housing crisis has a large impact on people with disabilities, including people with serious mental illness.

Almost 1.7 million people with serious mental illness receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), according to the Social Security Administration. SSI is a federal program that provides financial assistance to people with long-term disabilities, including mental illness, who have low income.

It is virtually impossible for a person with mental illness receiving SSI as their sole source of income to afford safe and suitable housing without receiving some form of rental assistance. In 2016, the national average rent for a studio or efficiency unit was $752, while the average monthly SSI payment is $744. How can a person with mental illness on SSI afford housing and other costs of living when rent takes up 99% of their SSI benefit?  It’s even worse for a modest one-bedroom unit. The national average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $861 per month, which is 113% of the average monthly SSI payment.

“Our daughter is currently living in Section 8 housing. Without this support, she would not be able to afford an apartment on her own. Living independently has helped immeasurably in her learning to develop the skills and confidence to meet life on her own terms. She has since found a job in which she can support herself, and begun engaging in the local community.”

—Jim, Minnesota

If Jim’s daughter received SSI benefits ($814 per month in Minnesota), and did not have access to her Section 8 housing, she would spend over $618 per month, or more than three-quarters (76%) of her income to rent an efficiency apartment in Minnesota. If she rented a one-bedroom apartment, rent would cost $748 per month, which is 92% of her income.

Without federal rental assistance and other affordable housing programs, many people with mental health conditions who receive SSI could face homelessness. This is unacceptable.

Tell your elected officials that it is essential to address the housing affordability crisis head on. Raise awareness by sharing this report with friends, family and your policymakers. Visit the “Priced Out Where You Live” tool on TAC’s website to learn more about the housing affordability gap for people with mental illness and other disabilities in your community.

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