California Agencies Working to Address Need for Affordable Accessible Housing

Affordable accessible housing is a necessity that’s out of reach for many people with disabilities. The California State Independent Living Council, an independent state agency that works with the California State Department of Rehabilitation, is working to change that.

The organization reports that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California pays approximately $850 for an individual and $1450 for a couple per month. To meet the federal guidelines for affordable housing, an individual should pay no more than approximately $260 per month and a couple no more than approximately $450 per month.

"The reality is that most all of us will experience a disability within our lifetime, which may prompt the need for affordable, accessible housing," said Bob Hand, executive director of Resources for Independence, Central Valley. "However, for people with permanent disabilities, the need is now, and affordable housing resources simply aren't available."

Affordability only touches on the problem of housing for people with disabilities, however. Several California communities are trying to adopt the state’s Universal Design Model Ordinance to increase accessibility.

"Trying to decipher the maze of information and resources can be overwhelming," said Hand, "and that's where independent living centers (ILCs) come into play. ILCs provide a number of services to people living with disabilities, including educating them about housing options as well as assisting them in negotiating rents and working with landlords. But more needs to be done."

In addition to educating, agencies want to help people with disabilities talk to their government representatives about the need for more affordable accessible housing.

"We are committed to supporting people living with disabilities in getting their voices heard," said Elsa Quezada, chair of the California State Independent Living Council. "By providing people with timely and pertinent information, training and education, we can arm them with the tools they need to live independently and not take no for an answer."