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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 02-040
(202) 708-0685
For Release
April 5, 2002

Bush Administration Increasing Housing for People with Disabilities
HUD announces Boston Housing Authority will make nearly 700 units available

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today announced the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has signed a Voluntary Compliance Agreement committing to make nearly 700 fully-accessible public housing units available to residents with disabilities.

"As we highlight Fair Housing Month, today's announcement illustrates the Administration's commitment to expanding housing opportunities for people with disabilities," Martinez said. "We will vigorously monitor the Housing Authority's compliance with the terms of these agreements to ensure fair housing for all Americans."

Under the agreement, the Boston Housing Authority will:

  • Make 5 percent of its housing stock (about 13,800 units) fully-accessible to persons with mobility impairments. Structural modifications must begin no later than July 1, 2002 and must be completed by December 30, 2005.

  • Develop uniform communication practices to make information concerning BHA programs accessible to persons with disabilities and provide routine notice on all public documents of the rights of persons with disabilities to request reasonable accommodations.

  • Enhance its process for assigning vacant units to further assure that families needing those features occupy units with accessibility features.

  • Promote consultation with advocates for persons with disabilities and ensure that whenever accessible units are available, and there is no one on the waiting list needing one, the vacancy will be referred to a statewide registry of accessible housing.

  • Provide additional training to key staff on the provisions of the agreement and on compliance with disability laws generally, including the Authority's duty to reasonably accommodate persons with all types of disabilities.

The Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) stems from a review HUD began in September of 2000 of the BHA's compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and HUD's implementing regulation. This regulation prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in federally-assisted programs; requires at least 5 percent of all newly constructed units be totally accessible; and, requires 2 percent of the units meet the needs of hearing or vision-impaired persons. HUD initiated the review after HUD staff observed possible violations while visiting BHA developments in connection with other monitoring.

A needs assessment conducted by the BHA's shows an overall need of 3.8 percent of units be accessible in the City of Boston and 4.8 percent in the greater-Boston area. Therefore, the 5 percent requirement in the VCA slightly exceeds the amount required under HUD's regulations.

According to the BHA, it has about 300 units fully accessible toward the goal of 690. Under the agreement HUD will inspect these units, and additional units as they become available, to verify that they comply with federal standards.

The BHA also agreed to adopt new reasonable accommodation procedures and develop criteria for determining whether a request is "reasonable". The Authority further agreed to expedite accommodation requests for vision and hearing impaired tenants and applicants.

Progress reports must be provided to HUD and the Housing Authority will submit to inspections of all the converted and newly constructed units to ensure they are in compliance with federal regulations. Failure to comply with the agreements could lead to loss of federal funding and possible court action by the Department of Justice.

This is the second major housing authority within six months to sign a voluntary agreement. In December, the District of Columbia Housing Authority agreed to make more than 500 of its public housing fully accessible for people with disabilities.

April has traditionally been Fair Housing Month ever since Congress paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, who was killed April 4, by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Included in that landmark legislation was Title VIII, the Fair Housing Act.

Anyone who believes they have experienced housing discrimination is asked to call HUD's Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777. They can also visit HUD's fair housing website at http://www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing minority homeownership, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov.



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