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Mental Retardation Update
November 21, 2003

This Mental Retardation Update provides an overview of housing, state, and federal issues. For additional information, please contact Linda Drummond.

Housing Choice Vouchers
On November 17 the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced funding for over $50 million to 1,300 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers targeted specifically for people with disabilities. This voucher program enables recipients to rent housing paying no more that 30% of their income with HUD paying the remainder. In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Housing Authority received 50 vouchers totaling $1.9 million; Allegheny Housing Authority received 49 vouchers totaling $1.2 million; and 1260 Housing Development received 50 vouchers totaling $1.9 million. For additional information access www.tacinc.org.

Disability Employment Month
In recognition of November as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the US Departments of Education and Chamber of Commerce released a guidebook, Disability Employment 101: Learn to Tap Your “HIRE” Potential to acquaint business leaders with programs and resources available to assist them in hiring people with disabilities. For information access http://rd.bcentral.com.

State Budget
On Tuesday, October 21, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 104-95 to raise the state income tax. In addition, they approved legislation that would set aside revenue for specific education programs, restore money cut from certain programs (i.e., drug and alcohol), and require school districts to ask voters to approve a moderate increase in local income taxes in exchange for receiving revenue from slot-machines to offset property taxes. Since then, nothing has been resolved and the state is still without its budget.

Federal Issues
Social Security announced the cost of living adjustments effective January 2004, with maximum SSI being $564 for individual; substantial gainful activity (SGA) level for people with disabilities will be $810 per month.

SSA Rep Payee (HR 743) has passed the House and is in the Senate Finance Committee. It makes improvements in SSI programs with provisions for protections of beneficiaries who need representative payees.

By unanimous consent, the Senate passed the Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Prevention Act (S.286) authorizing the program at the Centers for Disease Control for the next five years. It now goes to the House for a vote.

On November 14, the Senate passed the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) (S.1627). It requires community-based workforce development systems, WIA one-stops, to offer increased opportunities for community providers to provide employment and training services, and removes existing barriers from serving persons with disabilities.

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