TDHCA Sunset Recommendation #2: Create a program category for Texans earning between 0 and 110% of SSI.

As previously discussed here at Texas Housers, TDHCA is currently undergoing Sunset Review.  We are presenting recommendations for ways to improve TDHCA that have been endorsed by a broad range of stakeholders in TDHCA’s activities.

Issue:

TDHCA’s activities fail to reach Texans living on fixed income programs

Background:

TDHCA presently tracks three categories of low income households: Low Income: those earning 80% AMFI or below; Very Low Income: those earning 50% AMFI or below; and Extremely Low Income: those earning 30% AMFI or below. These categories are used to evaluate the housing needs of households within different income strata.  These categories are also used for program targeting.  When used for targeting, the income thresholds chosen for the categories are crucial to the actual allocation, as funds targeted at a given income group are typically claimed by the highest income household within a group.

The 2009 Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy data from HUD demonstrates that there is significant unmet housing need in households making below 30% AMFI.  Many of these households have incomes too low to qualify for or access the TDHCA programs targeted at households close to the 30% threshold.  Specifically, those living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or other government-funded programs may not qualify for housing programs targeted at 30% AMFI households.  While AMFI varies by area, federal SSI benefits are often 15% of AMFI or less.

Those Texans living on SSI can be more difficult to locate, contact, and market to than their higher income counterparts, and programs for such fixed income households must be structured differently than those designed for higher income households.  For these reasons, money earmarked for below 30% AMFI largely goes to the population nearest the 30% threshold, leaving a large portion of the state’s lowest income housing need unmet.

Recommendation:

Create a program category for Texans earning between 0 and 110% of SSI.

The State should recognize the distinct needs of those living on fixed incomes. We propose that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, along with other State agencies, develop a target income category of between 0 and 110% of the level of SSI. Setting a threshold below “Extremely Low” will allow the State to monitor, plan for, and allocate resources to a group that is currently slipping through the cracks of our housing and human service programs.

This Recommendation is Endorsed By:

  • Advocacy, Inc.
  • Association of Rural Communities in Texas
  • Center on Disability and Development – Texas A&M University
  • Easter Seals Central Texas
  • Habitat Texas
  • Motivation Education & Training, Inc.
  • Texas Association of Community Development Corporations
  • Texas Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies
  • Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
  • Texas Center for Disability Studies-UT
  • Texas Low Income Housing Information Service