WHO WE HOUSE

Housing is one of the most pressing issues among Los Angeles residents, and is particularly challenging for individuals diagnosed with a developmental disability. According to a 2008 study by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, individuals with disabilities who rely on SSI for their monthly income are consistently among the poorest in the country. In fact, on average SSI benefits equaled only 22.4% of the median household income for a single person. This same study found that in order for a person with disabilities to afford rent for a one-bedroom apartment listed at fair market rate, they would need to spend, on average, 116% of their monthly SSI check.  In light of the fact that “affordable housing” is defined as housing which requires 30% of an individual’s monthly income, a single person would need to earn $42,265 annually in order to afford most Fair Market Rate apartments in South Los Angeles. Furthermore, using this calculation, $288 is what would be deemed as affordable for an individual SSI recipient who receives $856 per month.

Friends Housing assists developmentally disabled men and women living in South Central L.A. Regional Center’s (SCLARC) catchment of South Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood, Paramount, South Gate, Huntington Park, Downey, and Carson. Approximately 75% of SCLARC's consumers are categorized as low-income, with most being dependent on SSI to pay for all of their expenses. Using the “affordable housing” calculation of 30%, it is nearly impossible for South Central L.A. Regional Center stakeholders who live at or below the poverty level to find affordable housing and live independently.

The stakeholders of Friends Housing, Inc. include a diverse group whose ethnicities range from Latino, African-American and Caucasian to Asian and Pacific Islander.  While many of our stakeholders live with multiple disabilities and may fall into more than one diagnosis group, the data shows that, 81% have Mental Retardation, 21% have Epilepsy, 20% have Autism and 17% have been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. In addition, 11% of our clients have a dual diagnosis of a developmental disability and a mental health issue.

In general, Friends Housing participants are part of a severely underserved population; many are further challenged because of language barriers. And compounding their quality of life issues is the fact that many consumers living in SCLARC’s catchment area are faced with high incidences of unemployment, crime, matriarch-only households and above average school drop-out rates.
       
 
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