The Kelsey is one of several organizations committed to new solutions to the housing crisis adults with disabilities face in Santa Clara and beyond. We’re grateful for the advocacy of Housing Choices, the Lanterman Housing Alliance, and others who work to create more housing for this community.
Right now, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) face significant housing challenges. It is the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors, service agencies, community leaders, and local advocates to change that. One way to do so is to ensure Measure A funds are used to fund housing developments that are inclusive of people with I/DD. We ask that the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Supportive Housing, together with community partners and the San Andreas Regional Center, address why this is the case and create new funding, strategies, and guidelines to build inclusive communities.
We talk about housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Yet, while 40% of people who experience homelessness have a disability and many considered “unhoused” in Santa Clara County have an I/DD, people with I/DD aren’t generally included in the housing supply for the chronically homeless. Safety net services, family supports, and institutional housing options prevent homelessness in the short term for people with I/DD, but many still live in unstable, unsafe, and unsustainable housing.
We talk about affordable housing. But so much of affordable housing is priced for those making 60%+ of Area Median Income. Many individuals with I/DD in Santa Clara County rely on SSI for income, making less than 20% Area Median Income. They’re priced out of even many affordable housing options.
We talk about supportive housing. But, often supportive housing projects aren’t designed to include people with I/DD or thoughtfully integrate I/DD service delivery systems. People with I/DD in California have a relatively robust service system, better mechanisms must be created to fund supportive housing projects that are I/DD inclusive.
We are supportive of new mechanisms to fund and operate inclusive communities that meet the housing needs of people with I/DD of all incomes, backgrounds, and level of need. We would like to see Measure A funds used to support projects that include units for people with I/DD. We do, however, have concerns about the structure of a 5% allocation of Measure A for I/DD. Rather, we’d like to see mechanisms where every funding source incentivizes inclusion of people with I/DD, every project includes units for people with I/DD, and every housing policy is designed with people with I/DD mind. Funding should ensure that the diversity of I/DD housing needs are met, without caps or limitation or separation. New funding mechanisms should also work to expand the pie of housing offered in the community broadly, not shift resources from one housing vulnerable population to another.
Policymakers and program administrators must also be aware of the challenges of requiring units for I/DD to be coupled with large concentrations of other supportive housing. Federal guidelines encourage inclusive, diverse, community-based housing options and actually discourage or disallow projects that include more than 25% of special needs populations. Measure A funding guidelines must be consistent with these guidelines and goals.
Additionally, funding sources like Measure A and related policies must be responsive to I/DD housing needs, even for those not currently unhoused. While current mechanisms sometimes provide emergency, temporary, or family housing options to people with I/DD, their permanent and broad housing needs are not being met in Santa Clara County. People should not be required to be living on the street or days away from losing their home in order to receive housing support.
The Board of Supervisors must consider how to better meet the housing needs of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This population has gone from being institutionalized and invisible to ignored. It’s time to change that.