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Casey Introduces Bill to Produce More Accessible, Affordable Housing

Bill would increase funding for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and expand development of accessible housing for seniors and people with disabilities 

A 2011 study found less than 6 percent of housing in U.S. is accessible

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced the Visitable Inclusive Tax Credits for Accessible Living (VITAL) Act to address the housing affordability and accessibility crisis for people with disabilities. The VITAL Act would increase investment in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and ensure that developers are building more accessible housing units that are designed for older adults and people with disabilities, and located within communities where residents can walk or move around easily in wheelchairs. U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Peter Welch (D-VT) are cosponsoring this legislation.

“Far too many older adults and people with disabilities cannot afford accessible housing, live in unsafe housing, or live in institutions even though they’d prefer to stay in their communities. This is unacceptable,” said Chairman Casey. “We need to ensure that families have a real choice when it comes to the place they call home. My legislation would ensure that we are ramping up accessible housing development to meet the widespread needs of these communities.”

“Anyone living with a disability deserves equal access to housing that accommodates their needs, is affordable and provides a safe environment for them to thrive,” said Senator Duckworth. “We must do more to make sure Veterans, seniors and people with disabilities can live the full, independent lives they deserve, which is why I’m proud to help Senator Casey introduce this bill to help make that a reality.”

“By 2034, the number of adults age 65 and older will be greater than the number of children under 18 for the first time ever, and we need to make sure our priorities match this changing landscape. As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I have traveled across New York talking to older Americans and understand that aging with dignity means safeguarding the right to age in place,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The VITAL Act would make this possible by investing in aging-friendly living spaces that meet mobility and accessibility needs for our seniors and people living with disabilities. With more than 40% of Americans age 65 and older living with some type of disability, this need is urgent. I am a proud cosponsor of this bill and I am committed to removing barriers to affordable and accessible housing for all older Americans.”

“For far too many Americans living with disabilities and older adults with mobility issues, safe housing is out of reach due to a lack of affordable and accessible options,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation would increase the number of new homes that are located in walkable or wheelchair friendly communities to increase access to housing for all.”

“Vermonters are facing a housing crisis, and the impacts are felt even more acutely by older folks and people with disabilities, who often struggle to find housing that is accessible, walkable, and affordable,” said Sen. Welch. “Each of us needs to remain connected to our communities to protect our physical and mental well-being. But without appropriate housing, seniors and people with disabilities can become isolated. That’s bad for the health of our seniors, and it’s bad for our communities. I’m proud to join Sen. Casey to introduce this important bill.”

According to a 2011 study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), less than 6 percent of housing is designed to be accessible. An accessible home can offer specific features and technologies, such as lowered kitchen counters and sinks, widened doorways, grab bars, and no step showers. 

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a federal program providing tax credits to developers who build new housing for low-income renters. The VITAL Act would increase funding for the LIHTC program to increase the number of accessible homes so that more people with disabilities and older adults can live in the communities they choose. It would also require that the states administering LIHTC construct at least 20 percent of their LIHTC units as accessible and/or walkable and rollable.

The VITAL Act is endorsed by The Kelsey, LeadingAge, Pathways to Housing PA, TriageCancer, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Liberty Housing Development Cooperation, National Council on Independent Living, National Disability Rights Network, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, The Arc of the United States, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Justice in Aging, National Housing Law Project, National Council on Aging, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National NeighborWorks Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, TASH, ANCOR, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and The Amputee Coalition.

Read more about the VITAL Act here.