Missoulian: OpEd: Montana delegation helps pass critical housing act

With the support of the full Montana congressional delegation, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 was signed into law on Jan. 4. This groundbreaking bipartisan legislation, without costing taxpayers additional money, will triple the number of units created to meet the critical housing needs of low-income Americans with disabilities through the HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing program for Persons with Disabilities.

The act provides the Section 811 program long overdue reform, increasing the program’s effectiveness and efficiency in meeting people with disabilities’ housing needs linked to necessary community support services. Today, thousands of Montanans with disabilities are in need of this type of housing. Often, people are stuck in nursing homes, or locked away in state institutions simply because they lack an affordable, accessible place to live. The increased supply of housing targeted at the needs of people with disabilities generated through the 811 reform will free more people from these institutional settings, and will also result in savings to state of Montana disability budgets as people can leave higher-cost institutional settings.

This bi-partisan effort will make a real difference in creating more and better housing choices for Montanans with disabilities. Quality, safe, accessible and affordable housing is the cornerstone of stable community living and a life of greater independence and dignity for persons with disabilities. Because of this new bill, people with disabilities will be given greater freedom to pursue lives of their own choosing in the community.

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