August 11 , 2006
BRIDGEPORT HOUSING AUTHORITY TO INCREASE NUMBER OF UNITS AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Bridgeport Housing Authority (BHA) has signed a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, committing to make at least five percent of its public housing units available to residents with disabilities.
The agreement stems from a review HUD conducted in May of 2004 to assess the BHA's compliance with Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in federally-assisted programs; requires at least five percent of all newly constructed units to be totally accessible; and requires two percent of the units meet the needs of hearing or vision impaired persons. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal funding.
The BHA manages 2,477 federal public housing units, and administers 2,630 Section 8 vouchers, a federal subsidy
that allows tenants in privately owned housing units to pay no more than 30 percent of the rent.
The review determined that BHA is currently not in compliance with parts of Section 504 and Title VI. Since the review, HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity has been working with the BHA on developing the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
"HUD is committed to ensuring that federally-assisted housing be accessible and usable by persons with disabilities," said Taylor Caswell, HUD's New England regional director. "We are pleased that the Bridgeport Housing Authority has recognized their obligation and has worked co-operatively with HUD to develop an aggressive, comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities."
Under the agreement, which was signed on July 27, 2006, the Bridgeport Housing Authority will:
- Hire a full-time disability rights coordinator.
- Hire or assign an employee to oversee the execution of the agreement.
- Establish a Disability Advisory Committee.
- Develop an analysis of the need for accessible units. Until there is an agreed upon number, HUD will
assume the need will be five percent of all units.
- Establish an accurate list of accessible units and implement a construction plan to meet agreed upon
need for accessible units. The plan will begin no later than January 1, 2007. The completion date will be
determined following the completion of the needs assessment. The BHA will commit at least $1 million
annually for the construction/renovations of the units.
- Implement a construction plan to make common areas compliant with disability laws. The plan will begin no
later than January 1, 2007. The completion date will be determined following the completion of the needs assessment.
- Establish an effective process for assigning the vacant accessible units at all properties.
- Review and revise procedures for reasonable accommodation transfers.
- Develop uniform communication practices to make information concerning BHA programs accessible to
persons with disabilities.
- Provide additional training to staff on compliance of disability laws.
The BHA must submit periodic progress reports to HUD and HUD will also monitor BHA's implementation of the agreement.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet