Congressman Chris Murphy testified on how to expand affordable housing options for seniors and Americans living with disabilities at a Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development hearing. Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committee, joined Murphy in calling for the modernization of federal housing assistance programs to ensure they can meet the needs of low-income residents of Connecticut and the rest of the nation. Working closely with Connecticut housing and mental health experts, Murphy introduced the bill to modernize “Section 811,” which needs to be updated because the current program is not meeting increased demand for supportive housing units. The House of Representatives passed Murphy’s bill in July, and Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. Senator Dodd hopes to bring it before the Banking Committee in the coming months.
Murphy testified on his bill to modernize the “Section 811″ housing program, the only federal program dedicated to helping low income citizens with disabilities live independently in the community through affordable housing and supportive services. The “Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009″ is named in honor of longtime Connecticut resident Frank Melville, an influential figure in affordable housing policy in Connecticut and across the country. Frank Melville was the original Chair of the Melville Charitable Trust, a leading source of funding for research and supportive housing for over fifteen years.
“We need to provide Connecticut seniors and citizens with disabilities with more affordable housing choices,” said Dodd. “Last week, Diane Randall from the Partnership for Strong Communities in Hartford testified to my Committee that renting a modest 1-bedroom apartment in Connecticut would cost a person with disabilities living off of Supplemental Security Income over 116 percent of their income. It is simply unsustainable. Congressman Murphy has shown real leadership with this bill and I’m glad to work with him on this and other efforts to give Connecticut residents better affordable housing options.”
“In Connecticut, it’s clear that we have a significant shortage of housing for extremely low income people with disabilities,” said Murphy. “We have the know-how in Connecticut to fix this problem and achieve the goal of helping people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses live independently – all we need are the tools, which this bill gives us.”