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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 02-051
Peggy Johannsen

For Release
May 9, 2002

HUD Reports Significant Progress on President's Initiative to Remove Barriers to Housing for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - HUD Secretary Mel Martinez announced today that the Department has made significant progress in implementing President Bush's New Freedom Initiative, an executive order to improve access to services for persons with disabilities.

Martinez joined Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and other cabinet officials today at an event to highlight the accomplishments made during the first year of the initiative and to reaffirm the Administration's commitment to the New Freedom Initiative, which the President launched last June to improve opportunities for community integration of people with disabilities.

"We have made good improvements, but these are just the first steps," Martinez said. "HUD will continue to work closely with our federal and local government partners - as well as people with disabilities - to help tear down the barriers to housing equality that confront many of the 54 million Americans with disabilities."

HUD has several key initiatives to implement the President's order:

  • Revising HUD's Section 8 rent subsidy program to permit people with disabilities to use vouchers to make mortgage payments to purchase their own homes.
  • Implementing a pilot program in 11 states called Project Access; a joint effort between HUD and HHS, designed to ease the transition of non-elderly persons with disabilities from nursing homes into community living.
  • Expanding rental choices and ensuring that housing vouchers are being used effectively by offering technical assistance to public housing authorities and non-profit organizations having difficulty in utilizing housing vouchers. Preference is given in the awarding of general-purpose vouchers to housing authorities that agree to use a specified percentage for persons with disabilities.
  • Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service to ensure that multifamily properties within the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, the number one producer of low-income housing, comply with federal accessibility standards.

In addition, HUD is continuing to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Through voluntary compliance agreements between HUD and the housing authorities in the District of Columbia and Boston, an additional 1,200 fully accessible housing units will become available in those cities. This year, HUD will award more than $16 million in Fair Housing grants to fund organizations leading the fight against housing discrimination.

HUD has also recently entered into an historic partnership with the National Association of Home Builders aimed at ensuring that multifamily housing complies with the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements. HUD has also launched two major education and outreach initiatives to make certain that more apartments and condominiums are built to be accessible to people with disabilities.

The President's budget for the coming fiscal year supports and expands on these efforts through additional rental vouchers for non-elderly disabled families, more housing construction for people with disabilities, and new dollars for housing assistance and support for low-income persons with HIV/AIDS.

HUD is one of six federal agencies directed by President Bush through the New Freedom Initiative to improve access to services for people with disabilities. Executive Order 13217 directs theses federal agencies including the Departments of Education, HHS, Justice, Labor and the Social Security Administration to “evaluate the policies, programs, statutes and regulations of their respective agencies to determine whether any should be revised or modified to improve the availability of community-based services for qualified individuals with disabilities” and to report back to the President with their findings. President Bush received “Delivering on the Promise” in March, a compilation of the final reports from HUD and the other individual agencies. Read HUD’s New Freedom Initiative Progress Report.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, 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.



Content Archived: April 9, 2010

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