December 11, 2014

VHDA Housing Choice Voucher Program – Preference for People with Intellectual or Development Disabilities

Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Fall 2014 Community Outreach Report.

People with disabilities have historically faced limited housing options, often requiring them to live in institutions or other segregated settings where they are denied many of the basic freedoms that people without disabilities take for granted. The Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead acknowledged that segregating people with disabilities in institutional settings deprives them of the opportunity to participate in their communities, interact with people who do not have disabilities, and make their own day-to-day choices.

In 2012, the state of Virginia reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that calls for Virginia to partner with other agencies to move more rapidly toward a community-based system of support that provides more integrated living environments.

VHDA is just one agency working to improve housing for clients leaving training centers, nursing homes or intermediate care facilities or who meet the criteria for the Intellectual Disability (ID) waiver or Developmental Disability (DD) waiver wait lists.

Voucher Preference: To address the Department of Justice Olmstead Settlement Agreement, VHDA has elected to establish a tenant selection preference for people with intellectual or development disabilities (ID/DD) who are in the target population and receiving community-based services. The Housing Choice Voucher program has set aside 32 vouchers specifically for those who meet the ID/DD preference — one voucher from each of its 32 agencies for the period October 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. Future set-asides will be determined if funding permits and the original 32 vouchers are used/leased.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Fair Housing, granted VHDA approval to establish this tenant selection preference. In the approval letter, Fair Housing stated, “This letter is specific to VHDA and cannot be extended to other jurisdictions. However, HUD is open to receiving requests from other jurisdictions in Virginia that are seeking to implement remedial actions pursuant to the DOJ Olmstead Settlement Agreement. Applying such preferences more broadly to other localities in Virginia will increase housing availability and choice for persons in the target population in need of affordable, integrated housing options.”

VHDA is pleased to offer this as a housing option and hopes that other housing agencies administering the voucher program will also consider providing vouchers to meet this important housing need.

For more information, contact Housing Choice Voucher Program Director Sharon Fairburn at 804-343-5920 or Sharon.Fairburn@vhda.com.
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