By Mike Dunn


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority says the need for public housing for the disabled far exceeds the supply, and today he called on local lawmakers to do more.

PHA chief Kelvin Jeremiah, speaking at a lengthy City Council committee hearing on the housing needs of Philadelphia residents with both physical and mental disabilities, said the demand for public housing in general is “incredible” –- often with ten-year waiting lists.

“We only have 432 units that become available annually,” he said.  “We will never be able to meet that demand.”

And Jeremiah told councilmembers that demand extends to the smaller population of those with disabilities.  To mitigate this crisis, he said, is to offer vouchers and subsidies to nonprofits trying to develop affordable housing.

“One of the things that we are doing is partnering with folks like Mission First and Inglis Housing to provide housing for what we’re calling ‘special population,’ because of the incredible need that they have, the incredible demand for housing that exists.  And I think the city and, frankly, the state should play a more active role in funding those types of programs,” he said.

Jeremiah praised City Council’s own affordable-housing initiative.  But he noted that PHA receives most of its funding from Washington, and he called on both the city and state to step up with more funding for housing for the disabled.

He noted that such housing often requires extensive modifications, including stair lifts, automatic doors, and elevators.