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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-202
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeMay 21, 1998


WASHINGTON - For the third time since becoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1997, Andrew Cuomo invited members of the disability community to his office recently to give a progress report on HUD's efforts to better meet their needs and to hear their concerns.

Representatives from these groups were invited to attend: Access Living, Bazelon Center, Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled (CORD), Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH), Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC), People Housing People, Berkeley Center for Independent Living, Speaking for Ourselves, New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability, National Empowerment Center, Ardinger Consultants and Associates, and the National Council on Independent Living.

Cuomo reviewed for the advocates the actions HUD has taken to follow through on the requests for improvements in the delivery of housing services made by the group at their last meeting with him in February. "We've made phenomenal progress on your issues of concern," Cuomo told the advocates. "I don't presume that we've completed the agenda but we've made a lot of headway toward ensuring that people with disabilities have the same real choices as non-disabled people in determining where they want to live." Highlights include:

  • HUD distributed to all cities and states instructions stating that when assessing the housing needs of people with disabilities in their community, the localities should not count beds in nursing homes and other care facilities as "housing." This requires the communities to provide standard housing, such as apartments, condos or single family homes.

  • Cuomo issued a memo encouraging communities to use federal block grant money for Access Modification Funds. Low-income people with disabilities frequently are unable to rent housing in the community because it is inaccessible and they cannot afford to pay for modifications.

  • Cuomo continues to seek approval of his budget request to double the number of Section 811 housing rental vouchers for people with disabilities. The vouchers for subsidized housing give people with disabilities more flexibility in choosing the type and location of housing they need.

  • HUD has put out a notice that encourages all applicants competing for its federal grants to incorporate "visitability standards" in their proposals. "Visitability standards" literally mean making a new or renovated home built with these federal funds easier to "visit" by a person who uses a wheelchair or a walker by having at least one "no step" entrance into the home and wide doors.

  • HUD has set aside $800,000 in grants (in the Fair Housing Initiative Program) specifically for local private fair housing groups to expand their activities into the disability arena, and for local groups that concentrate on enforcing the disability aspect of the Fair Housing Act, to become full-service fair housing organizations.

  • HUD has revised the Fair Housing Act Design Manual and it is now available.

Bill Henning, with CORD from Hyannis, MA, thanked Cuomo for HUD's budget request increasing the 811 funding for tenant-based rental assistance, and called it a "positive step" for a program that is such a "vital resource for people with disabilities." He also said the group was "very encouraged" by HUD's guidance to its grant recipients that nursing homes should not be counted as homes and said, "we applaud you for that."

Becca Vaughn, with DRACH, of Topeka, KS, thanked Cuomo for the Access Modification Funds directive, which she called "a great tool for us in our communities." She requested that HUD do more to publicize the directive, and Cuomo promised that that would be done.

Beto Barrera, with Access Living in Chicago, said the group was "very happy" to know that HUD is encouraging people to carry out the concept for visitability in new construction and rehabilitation work, which he said was a "big step forward." He also said the advocates are "thankful' for the set aside of $800,000 in the Fair Housing Initiative Program. He said that's a "good sign" that will help disability groups carry out their own housing enforcement efforts.

HUD began a stepped-up campaign against housing discrimination in September at President Clinton's direction, as part of the President's One America Initiative. Cuomo also promised to increase enforcement actions in disability related housing discrimination cases, and challenged the groups the advocates represent to file complaints of alleged wrongdoing with HUD for further investigation.

Cuomo last month issued a landmark order that for the first time required a builder to make modifications to completed housing units so they are accessible to people with disabilities. The Secretary's order affirmed a decision by HUD Chief Administrative Law Judge Alan W. Heifetz under the Fair Housing Act. The decision is the first ever requiring a builder to make all necessary modifications to completed housing to make it accessible to people with disabilities.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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