HUD Award opens up affordable, accessible housing units

photo of Governor Quinn at the event. Marca Bristo of Access Living is to his left. Photo courtesy of “Harvey Tillis Art & Stock Photography.”
On February 12, Access Living Housing Policy Advocate Terence Simms, President and CEO Marca Bristo, and other Access Living Staff Members, attended a news conference hosted by the State of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the Maple Pointe Apartments in River North. At the media event, Governor Pat Quinn and HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones announced a nearly $12 Million award that will provide affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities moving out of institutions. Historically, housing has been one of the most significant barriers that prevent people with disabilities from living independently in communities of their choice. Because of a lack of housing that is both accessible and affordable, people with disabilities have been forced to remain in nursing homes or in other segregated housing. Sometimes, even units that are identified as affordable by rental standards, price out people with disabilities who survive on a monthly Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance Check.

The award announced on February 12 addresses the issue of affordability. According to a news release issued by the Governor’s Office, the HUD Award “bridges the gap between the required rental amount and what extremely low-income tenants can pay.”* Across the state, the award will make up to 825 existing accessible apartments affordable for people with disabilities who qualify financially. HUD awarded the grant under the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. At the event, Access Living’s Marca Bristo flanked Governor Quinn as he spoke at the podium. Quinn, when talking about Illinois’ effort to rebalance the system of long-term care in Illinois, said, “As governor of Illinois, we are going to keep on doing this until we get this done.”

Sitting in the audience at the event, Simms was encouraged by the award announcement. He says that it will be interesting to follow the process of distributing award money to housing providers, and offering units to residents with disabilities. He added that the HUD award is a tremendous step for the community. “Any money that goes toward subsidized housing is a good thing,” he said.

*From News Release issued by State of Illinois