Housing – Funding for States from National Housing Trust Fund Announced
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the first-ever allocations from the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) to the states. The NHTF is a new, dedicated source of funding for affordable housing primarily for people with extremely low incomes, a group that includes many people with disabilities. The NHTF is funded by a very small assessment on the volume of business of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal government sponsored enterprises. This funding stream started up for the first time in 2015 and the first-ever state allocations under the NHTF total $174 million for 2016. State allocations are based on five factors related to the severity of the housing crisis faced by very low income and extremely low income households in the state. The 2016 state allocations range from $3 million (the minimum amount possible, by law) to $10.1 million (to California). States now must develop spending plans for their NHTF dollars. Now is the time for disability advocates to contact the agency in their state that is in charge of developing the state’s NHTF spending plan to ensure that the plans address the urgent needs of people with disabilities for affordable, accessible, integrated housing in the community. Extensive resources on the NHTF and how to get involved in NHTF advocacy in your state are available from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and from HUD.
Education – Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office Releases Report on Equity
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released its annual report on May 4. According to the report, Delivering Justice, the agency received a record number of complaints last year – over 10,000, nearly double the number the number it received a decade ago. Almost half (46%) of all complaints last year alleged discrimination against students with disabilities, with the most common complaint involving these students being not receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The greatest increases in types of complaints were related to the restraint and isolation of students with disabilities; racial harassment; inadequate support for students learning English, and sexual violence. The report says complaints about the alleged restraining or isolating of those students have increased 58% since 2014. Notable cases are profiled in the report, including some related to accessible technology for students with disabilities. OCR opened more than 3,000 investigations last year and reached more than 1,000 resolutions.
Prevention – House and Senate to Host Briefings Today on Zika and Birth Defects
Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) will host separate briefings today on “What You Need to Know About Zika and Birth Defects.” Panelists will be Coleen Boyle, Director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities; Cynthia Moore, Director of the CDC Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders; and Dr. Kristy Murray, Associate Professor, Pediatrics-Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine. Panelists will discuss what scientists are learning about adverse birth outcomes associated with the Zika virus and what CDC and partner organizations around the world are doing to learn more.
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