Public comments regarding the Ten Percent Biennial Base Reduction Options, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, FY 2014-15 Legislative Appropriation Request
July 10, 2012
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Ten Percent General Revenue Reduction Schedule
FY 2014-15 Legislative Appropriation Request
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) appreciates the opportunity to address the proposed State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2014-15 Ten Percent Biennial Base Reduction Options to be included as part of the Department’s SFY 2014-15 Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR). TCDD is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The Council’s mission is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
TCDD supports the recommendation to the Board to preserve funding for the Texas Bootstrap Program and the Amy Young Barrier Removal Program at SFY 2012-13 levels in the Ten Percent General Revenue Reduction Schedule. However, our appreciation for the recommendation to preserve these programs in the TDHCA LAR for Fiscal Years 2014-15 is tempered by two facts. Preserving these programs is achieved with cuts to other vital Housing Trust Fund programs that serve persons with disabilities, such as the Homebuyer Assistance program. And, as staff pointed out in the reduction schedule, once a reduction is taken, it is often permanent. The Housing Trust Fund went into the 82nd session with $22 million and was cut by 60 percent to $11.2 million. By state law $6 million per biennium must be set-aside for Bootstrap loan program and $1.2 million transferred to the Veterans Commission. As a result some programs were discontinued after TDHCA brought stakeholders together to prioritize the slim $4 million remaining for the then six additional HTF programs. The Amy Young Architectural Barrier Removal program was preserved.
The Amy Young Architectural Barrier Program removes one of the barriers to independent living for people with disabilities and the disability community applauds TDHCA for establishing and prioritizing the program. The 2014-15 LAR is due to the Legislative Budget Board on August 16, 2012 and TCDD hopes that the TDHCA board will voice its commitment to people with disabilities and other disparate populations served by the Housing Trust Fund with (1) an Exceptional Item Request to return the Housing Trust Fund to current funding levels of $12 million and (2) an Exceptional Item Request to return the Housing Trust Fund the 2010-11 level of $22 million.
While the Amy Young Architectural Barrier Program addresses accessibility, affordability is the greatest barrier. Housing is considered unaffordable if it costs more than 30 percent of one’s income, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. The average rent for a one-bedroom unit was $824 per month in Austin in 2011,1 or 118% of the monthly Supplement Security Income (SSI) of $698. The few options for low-income people with disabilities who rely on SSI, such as rental assistance programs, have long waiting lists. And, just like Medicaid waiver waiting lists, the lack of housing options increases the risk of institutionalization of people with disabilities — at a much higher cost to us all. A budgetary commitment in the 2014-15 LAR to a target income category in TDHCA programs up to 110% of the level of SSI would enable the state to monitor, plan for, and allocate resources to people with disabilities, veterans and the rising population of renters paying more than 50 per cent of their income for rent, according to HUD.2
Thank you for your service to Texas.
Belinda G. Carlton
TCDD Public Policy Specialist
Desk Phone: 512 437-5414
- The 2011 National Apartment Report (PDF). Retrieved July 9, 2011. ↩
- Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: A Report to Congress (webpage). Retrieved on July 9, 2012. ↩