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MANKATO — Non-elderly Mankatoans with disabilities will receive $169,000 in federal funding for housing vouchers to help them live more independently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced.

The vouchers are particularly needed in Mankato compared to other Minnesota cities, according to a report by an advocacy group for people with disabilities, because rent payments here consume a larger percentage of peoples' disability payments than most other cities in the state.

The 28 local vouchers awarded to Mankato's Economic Development Authority were among 395 across Minnesota totaling nearly $3 million, part of a $98.5 million in funding nationwide for the Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program provides funding to housing agencies to assist people with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other separated settings, who are at serious risk of institutionalization, or who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, according to HUD.

“HUD is committed to making sure people with disabilities have a decent, safe and affordable place to call home,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a written statement.

The program, which aims to help people live in the most integrated setting in their community, encourages partnerships with health and human service agencies to provide support and volunteer services to help individuals to live more independently in their home community.

A December report by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, "Priced Out: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities," found that the average Supplemental Security Income of renters with disabilities in 2016 was $9,156 and SSI is often the primary source of income for those renters. The average cost of a one-bedroom or efficiency apartment nationwide in 2016 was $752, meaning that 99 percent of the person's income would be consumed by rent.

The result, according to the same report, was more than a million non-elderly Americans with disabilities living in nursing homes or other institutional settings or with family members over the age of 60.

In Mankato-North Mankato, the typical one-bedroom apartment would consume 86 percent of the average SSI paid to people with disabilities and the average efficiency apartment would consume 75 percent. Across Minnesota's larger cities, only people with disabilities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area see more of their Supplemental Security Income eaten up by rent payments than those in Mankato, according to the report, which was co-written by the Technical Assistance Collaborative.

The funding to the Mankato EDA was the fourth largest amount in Minnesota, trailing only the $928,000 for Minneapolis, $769,000 for the Metropolitan Council and $237,000 for St. Paul.

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