The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday announced more than $710 million in grants to help very low-income elderly and people with disabilities find affordable housing.

HUD is awarding $574.8 million through Section 202 grants to assist very low-income elderly and $135.8 million through Section 811 grants to assist very low-income people with disabilities.

“Our senior citizens have given us so much, and Americans with disabilities make remarkable contributions to our society every day. Neither group should ever have to worry about being able to afford a decent place to live,” said HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. “The grants we are announcing today will go a long way toward achieving that goal.”

HUD’s Section 202 grants program helps expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for the elderly. It provides very low-income elderly with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation.

In addition to funding the construction and rehabilitation of projects to create apartments, HUD Section 202 grants will subsidize rents for five years so that residents will pay only 30 percent of their adjusted incomes as rent.

To be eligible for the assistance a household must be classified as “very low- income,” which means an income less than 50 percent of the area median. Nationally, based on 50 percent of the national median family income with an applicable adjustment for household size, a one-person household would need to have an income equal to or less than $20,300 a year.

HUD’s Section 811 grants program will fund a majority of newly constructed, small apartment buildings, group homes for three to four people per home, or condominium units. Residents will pay 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent and the federal government will pay the rest.

The grants awarded under HUD’s Section 811 program provide housing for households with one or more very low-income individuals, at least one of whom is at least 18 years old and has a disability, such as a physical or developmental disability or chronic mental illness. The term “person with disabilities” also includes two or more people with disabilities living together, and one or more persons with disabilities living with one or more live-in attendants. The program allows persons with disabilities to live independently in their communities by increasing the supply of rental housing with the availability of supportive services.

To be classified as “very low-income,” a household income cannot exceed 50 percent of the area median income. However, most households that receive Section 811 assistance have an income less than 30 percent of the area median. Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $12,180.

HUD provides two forms of Section 202 and Section 811 funds to non-profit groups:

Capital advances: This money covers the cost of developing the housing. It does not need to be repaid if the housing is available for occupancy by either very low-income seniors or very low-income people with disabilities for at least 40 years.

Project rental assistance: This money covers the difference between the resident’s contribution toward rent and the cost of operating the project.

HUD is a federal agency that implements housing policy.

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