Tennessee housing agency spurns federal funds

The state’s housing agency turned down the chance to apply for $12 million in federal rental assistance for people with disabilities — overruling a recommendation by its own staff and by the state’s TennCare Medicaid agency. Advocates for the disabled say the Section 811 rental assistance program is desperately needed to address a housing crisis among people with disabilities who want to live independently but who are often forced into homelessness or into institutions, which cost the state more money. The 2010 law creating the new Section 811 rental assistance program was passed with rare bipartisan support, with unanimous votes in both the House and Senate. It requires no upfront state money, but it does require that the state Medicaid agency partner with a housing agency to provide vouchers that people can use to pay their landlords. Board members of the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency at their July 24 meeting shelved the plan to apply for a piece of the $85 million in funding that just became available, declining to take a vote.  Board members were skeptical about strings attached to the program. Board members sited concerns that the program could require THDA’s own funds to cover administrative costs of the program.

The Tennessean

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