Public Comment / SSA RFA for Pilot Program: Long Term Supportive Housing for those with SMI

Updated: 1 year ago
Public Policy

February 3, 2023
Nate Crippes / Public Affairs Supervising Attorney
Andrew Riggle / Public Policy Advocate
(801) 363-1347 / (800) 662-9080

Good morning, committee members. I’m Nate Crippes, the Public Affairs Supervising Attorney with the Disability Law Center.

The DLC agrees with Rep. Abbott that there is a great need for more permanent supportive housing statewide. However, we cannot support this request for a congregate setting of 60 beds. A residential setting like this would likely violate the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s holding in Olmstead v. L.C. To be clear, simply being able to freely leave and have visitors is not integration. Utahns with disabilities have the right to live in their communities just like everyone else and not be left with only the choice of disability specific housing.

We have been monitoring settings for individuals with serious mental illness in Utah. I’ve seen the congregate settings, and it is an outdated model. In fact, it goes against the evidence-based practices guidance from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on permanent supportive housing. We believe both deeply affordable and supported housing needs to be statewide, scattered site, near schools, jobs. transportation, grocery stores, libraries, and community centers, rather than congregate, segregated settings. We would encourage the legislature to look for better models to expand permanent supportive housing.

Thank you for your time.