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WASHINGTON, DC – March 24, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today issued a report summarizing efforts to the measure the extent of “worst case housing needs” among very low-income renter households with disabilities. HUD’s 2009 Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities finds that approximately 1 million households that included nonelderly people with disabilities had worst case needs.

“Worst case housing needs” are defined as very low-income renters (incomes below half the median in their area) who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half their monthly incomes for rent, lived in severely substandard conditions, or both.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to use a direct measure to estimate the number of these households rather than relying on proxies,” said Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. “Better data will help inform us on how best to house and serve this vulnerable population. Persons with disabilities are confronted with a number of obstacles to finding decent rental housing, including discrimination and the general lack of accessible housing they can afford.”

Last month, HUD issued its latest in a long-running series of reports on the extent of worst case housing needs. Based on data from HUD’s American Housing Survey (AHS) conducted between May and September of 2009, the full report found a stark increase in the overall number of worst case housing needs between 2007 and 2009. This study is a supplement to that report and presents national estimates and information on the critical housing problems that confront low-income renting families that include people with disabilities.

In 2009, the AHS included for the first time, direct questions on disability, presenting a unique opportunity to improve the estimates of the number of households that include people with disabilities who experience worst case needs. Until 2008, HUD identified households that include people with disabilities by using a proxy measure of several reported income sources that are typically associated with disabilities. Although the proxy measure improved significantly over the years as a result of better AHS data and methods, it has acknowledged limitations, such as undercounting people with disabilities, in some cases, and flagging people who do not report disabilities, in other cases.

Trends in Worst Case Needs and Disabilities between 2005 and 2009

Using HUD’s former proxy measure is the only method to examine any change from prior year reports in the number of these very-low income households with disabilities. In 2009, the number and prevalence of worst case needs increased among very low-income renters with disabilities. Because a direct measure was not available before the 2009 AHS, changes overtime have to rely on income proxy measure. According to income proxy measure, the number of worst case needs households with disabilities increased by 140,000 between 2007 and 2009, affecting 1.1 million households.

Major findings of the study include:

* In 2009, 2.6 million very low-income renter households included nonelderly people reporting at least one of the six measures of disabilities (visual, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living limitations) and, of those, 987,000 experienced worst case needs, which put the prevalence of worst case needs at 38 percent among this group.
* Ambulatory, cognitive, and independent living limitations were the most prevalent limitations among households with worst case needs and with people with disabilities. Visual, hearing, and self-care limitations were found in a smaller share of those same households.
* In the households that included nonelderly people with disabilities, 86 percent included nonelderly adults with disabilities, 18 percent included children with disabilities, and 4 percent included both instances.
* Renter households that include nonelderly people with disabilities are more likely than those that don’t include people with disabilities to have very low incomes, experience worst case needs, pay more than one-half of their income for rents, and have other housing problems, such as living in inadequate or overcrowded housing.
* On the positive side, renter households that include nonelderly people with disabilities are two times more likely to receive housing assistance than those that don’t include people with disabilities.
* According to the income proxy measure, between 2007 and 2009, the number of worst case needs households that included people with disabilities increased by 100,000, reaching 1.1 million households. In this time period, the prevalence of worst case needs among very low-income renters with disabilities increased from 38 to 41 percent.

Read the 2009 Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities.

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and

Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685