California Supreme Court Win for People with Developmental Disabilities and their Families
(San Francisco, CA) - Today, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of people with developmental disabilities and their families who live in federally-subsidized housing. The Court held that a federal regulation prohibits public housing authorities from counting In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) payments towards a family’s income.
These families provide services needed to keep their family member with a developmental disability at home. They provide them with assistance such as bathing, feeding, dressing, etc., and may receive IHSS payments from the State of California to offset a portion of the time they spend caring for their loved ones.
“Including IHSS payments in the determination of annual income essentially penalized families who had made the laudable decision to provide the services needed to keep their family member at home,” said Autumn Elliott, senior counsel at Disability Rights California. “Now families do not have to choose between preserving their housing subsidy and having their family member with a developmental disability live at home with them.”
Disability Rights California originally brought this case to the California Supreme Court on behalf of Kerrie Reilly, who receives IHSS payments for a portion of the 24-hour-per-day protective supervision that she provides for her adult daughter living with her who has a developmental disability.
Ms. Reilly challenged the Marin Housing Authority’s practice of including IHSS payments in its calculation of her annual income. The California Supreme Court agreed with Ms. Reilly that in doing so Marin Housing Authority acted in violation of a federal regulation, which excludes such State payments from the definition of “annual income.”
Public housing authorities use a family’s annual income to calculate a family’s share of rent and also determine whether the family is eligible to participate in a subsidized housing program in the first place. Under Marin Housing Authority’s practice, families that provided services for a family member with a developmental disability would see their rent increase as a result, and could even lose eligibility for housing.
Without the IHSS program, many Californians with developmental disabilities would be forced to live in an institution rather than in their family homes. The California Supreme Court’s decision today helps this critical program be fulfilled for families who rely on federal housing subsidies in a state with increasing unaffordable housing costs.
Significant Court Documents
- State payments for care of disabled child don’t count as income for poor family, California high court rules - San Francisco Chronicle 08/31/2020
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights California (DRC) is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. For more information visit: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org.