Housing Reform

Reprinted from PN March 2011

Legislation designed to reinvigorate and modernize the Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program is signed into law.

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Late in 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010, which provides significant changes in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program.

This legislation was designed to reinvigorate and modernize what many disability advocates and housing experts had come to view as a moribund program. Although Section 811 provides important affordable housing linked with community-based supportive services for the most vulnerable people with disabilities, its rules and limitations had made it increasingly difficult for providers to take advantage of the program. By leveraging other sources of capital funding, such as federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the reformed Section 811 program will now develop thousands more units of supportive housing every year and—for the first time—create integrated supportive housing units within affordable housing properties.

PVA had supported a three-year advocacy effort on behalf of the legislation by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force and Technical Assistance Collaborative of Boston that culminated in Senate passage on December 17 by unanimous consent. The House passed a similar bill in 2009 and, prior to the end of the 111th Congress, voted to adopt the bill passed by the Senate.

The Act makes long overdue improvements to the Section 811 program by:

- Modernizing and simplifying the capital advance program for nonprofit sponsors

- Integrating supportive housing for people with disabilities into larger, multi-family, affordable, rental housing developments

- Protecting an existing tenant-based program targeted to people with disabilities

- Creating an innovative subsidy approach that will allow states and localities to leverage additional capital funds for the creation of new units of supportive housing

This legislation is named in honor of the late Frank Melville, the first board chair of the Melville Charitable Trust. He and the entire Melville Charitable Trust family have been national leaders in promoting supportive housing as a highly successful and cost-effective best practice that can prevent and end unnecessary institutionalization and homelessness among people with the most significant and long-term disabilities.

More information about the 811 reform law is available through Technical Assistance Collaborative [TAC] at


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