Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ending the Housing Crisis for People With Disabilities

By Lisa LaBrecque

In 1971, the U.S. Congress created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The noble goal of the program was to provide financial support for people who can’t work because of a significant, long-term disability.

Unfortunately, our country has failed to meet that goal. According to a report recently released by the Technical Assistance Collaborative called Priced Out in 2006, national average rents for both one-bedroom and efficiency apartments were more than the entire monthly income of an individual relying solely on SSI. About 3.5 million people in the U.S. rely on SSI as their sole source of income.

Here in New Mexico, the average SSI payment is $603 a month. That means an individual in New Mexico who relies solely on SSI has to spend 77 percent of his income on an efficiency apartment or 88 percent of his income on a one bedroom apartment. That leaves only about $100 a month to pay for food, medical care, clothing, transportation and utilities.


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