In a supplemental report released the week of February 25, HUD reports that the number of disabled non-elderly renter households with worst case housing needs in 2005 was 1.1 million, more than double its original estimate in its Affordable Housing Needs 2005 report. The higher number is the product of a methodological improvement motivated by research conducted for the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ Housing Task Force (CCD-HTF) and supported by NLIHC. In its study, CCD-HTF argues for an additional adjustment not included in HUD’s report that could increase the number of disabled renter households with worst case needs to 2.4 million.
In 2007, HUD released its report to Congress, in which it estimated that in 2005, 5.99 million very low income unassisted renters either spent more than half of their income on rent or lived in substandard housing and thus had “worst case needs.” Of these, HUD reported that 0.5 million non-elderly households included at least one disabled individual. Because the American Housing Survey (AHS), on which this biennial report is based, does not include questions explicitly related to disability status, beginning with the 2003 report HUD has generated its rough estimate of the disabled population based on households reporting income from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or public assistance.
Research conducted for CCD-HTF and based on American Community Survey data (ACS) indicates that a fourth source of income – from retirement, survivor, or disability pensions – is also a good proxy for disability status among the non-elderly population and would allow HUD to analyze worst case needs among families with children and disabled adults for the first time. Using a similar question on receipt of disability payments added to the AHS questionnaire in 2005, HUD reports that this fourth proxy does not affect the total number of non-elderly renter households with worst case needs (4.7 million) but does increase the proportion with a disabled adult from 12% (0.5 million) to 23% (1.1 million).
Because only 65% of all self identified disabled households in the ACS receive income from one of these four sources, and because other surveys also explicitly ask questions about disabling conditions (e.g., Survey of Income and Program Participation, National Health Interview Survey), CCD-HTF also argues that HUD should adjust its AHS-based estimates of worst case needs among disabled households to control totals from other data sources, something it has actually done in past reports. Such an adjustment would indicate that roughly half of the 4.7 million non-elderly very low income renter households with worst case needs had at least one disabled adult. HUD’s supplement does not incorporate this recommendation.
HUD’s Housing Needs of Persons with Disabilities is available at www.huduser.org/publications/affhsg/affhsgneedsdis.html. The Hidden Housing Crisis: Worst Case Housing Needs Among Adults with Disabilities, conducted by Kathryn Nelson for CCD-HTF, can be found at www.tacinc.org.