April 27, 2023

Duckworth Joins Casey to Introduce Bill to Produce More Accessible, Affordable Housing


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, to introduce 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.

“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.”

“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.”

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.

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) are also cosponsoring this legislation.

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.

A summary of the VITAL Act is available here.