WI20-07: Housing Assistance as a Benefit for the Disabled and SSI Takeup



The federal government currently provides an average of $567 per month in cash assistance to 8.1 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. Households with qualifying disabilities for SSI may simultaneously benefit from other programs. In this project, we focus on one largely unexplored but widespread SSI policy interaction: housing assistance. Housing assistance provides an estimated average value of $563 per month to each of over 4 million households, though many more households are eligible than receive it. Average waitlist times are 30 months among current recipients. Each of 3,100 local PHAs can choose how to assign housing assistance among eligible households. Some use a simple lottery or queue system, while others prioritize certain categories of households. While increasingly households facing disabilities have a greater likelihood of obtaining housing assistance, investigation of policies suggest there are a variety of preferences across PHAs. Some PHAs explicitly state preferences for households with disabilities and others prioritize domestic violence survivors, the homeless, or other groups. In addition to preferences, waiting lists vary across localities. Each time a waitlist opens, local PHAs are required to inform the public via news postings. This project will be the first to collect all local-level policies from 2009-2017 on the preferences toward disability and opening and closing of waitlists for housing assistance, and then use these data to help determine its effect on SSI applications and participation.


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