Office of Public Engagement

Building Partnerships for Community Living

The Community Living Initiative works to connect individuals with disabilities transitioning to community living with the accessible, affordable housing they require. Along with health, shelter is among the most basic human needs. If people can’t live in homes that meet their individual needs, they lack a vital element of independence.

There are major barriers to achieving success. Accessible, affordable housing is scarce and housing vouchers often do not reach those with the greatest need. Without addressing housing, there is only so much that innovative transition programs such as Money Follows the Person can accomplish.

The President’s Year of Community Living called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to change this dynamic by building an unprecedented partnership at the federal level, and bringing together housing and human services agencies on the state and local levels. Following the lead of Secretaries Sebelius and Donovan, our agencies meet regularly and have identified and implemented a number of strategies to address this pressing need. Highlights include:

  1. Issuing 5,300 New Housing Vouchers for people with disabilities since 2010 – including 948 designated to serve those transitioning to community-based long term services and supports, and accountability mechanisms to ensure they reach those most in need;
  2. HUD has worked closely with HHS as they implement changes to the Section 811 program that now requires greater integration of people with disabilities served by the program;
  3. HUD’s fair housing agency issued guidance explaining how staff can support HUD’s priority for transition of people with disabilities from institutional to community settings through its regular work enforcing requirements to “affirmatively further fair housing;” and
  4. In September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded $1.98 million to six states to develop sustainable partnerships with State Housing Agencies. These grants will result in long-term strategies to provide permanent and affordable rental housing for persons with disabilities receiving Medicaid services.
  5. This partnership reflects our long-lasting commitment to ensure that persons with disabilities who wish to receive their services and supports in the community have the freedom to realize their American Dream.

Learn more about the HHS Community Living Initiative.

Henry Claypool is Director of the Office on Disability at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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