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1  Fair Housing

Some Ideas Re. Fair Housing - Information Bulletin # 316 (6/2010)

For many years, Congress has mandated that "all executive departments and
agencies shall administer their programs and activities relating to
housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further the
purposes" of the federal Fair Housing Act."  HUD is supposed to
"affirmatively ... further" fair housing (AFFH).

HUD's Fair Housing Planning Guide, ,which governs recipients of the CDBG,
HOME funds and related federally-funded programs states HUD is "committed
to eliminating ... illegal physical and other barriers to persons with
disabilities and other discriminatory practices in housing."  The Planning
Guide can be found at http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/images/fhpg.pdf

"The fundamental goal of HUD's fair housing policy is to make housing
choice a reality through Fair Housing Planning (FHP)".

HUD's Fair Housing Planning Guide states the AFFH is "not restricted" to
only HUD-funded programs, but the AFFH "obligation extends to all housing
and housing-related activities in the grantee's jurisdictional area
whether publicly or privately funded."

FHP means that a recipient of federal housing and community development
funds must annually certify compliance with AFFH For CDBG and HOME and
related funds, it means that periodically (every four years or so) a
jurisdiction must perform an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing
Choice (AI), identifying impediments to choice and how these impediments
will be eliminated, with a list of specific actions with measurable
results. "The AI is a review of impediments to fair housing choice in the
public and private sector."  Public housing authorities and Housing Choice
Voucher programs are required to do a Public Housing Plan that includes
this same kind of analysis.

The AI includes reviewing local/state laws and policies/practices and --
1.  assessing how they affect both the "availability and accessibility of

2.  assessing conditions affecting fair housing choice; and

3.  assessing the availability of affordable, accessible housing in a
   range of unit sizes.

Impediments to fair housing choice include "any actions, omissions, or
decisions ... which restrict housing choices or the availability of
housing choice," including "actions, omissions or decisions that have this
effect."  Such impediments include "policies, practices or procedures that
appear neutral on their fact, but which operate to deny or adversely
affect that availability of housing" to persons with disabilities.

HUD states that housing choice is "fundamental to meeting essential
needs.... Because housing choice is so critical, fair housing is a goal
that public officials must achieve if equality of opportunity is to become
a reality."

Here are only a few impediments disability advocates might want to

*No requirement that all new private housing construction have a minimal
percentage of fully accessible units.

*No visitability requirement for all new private housing construction, or
failure to enforce existing visitability requirements.

*New housing construction in geographical areas without accessible public

*No allocation of HOME Investment Partnership funds to end the unnecessary
institutionalization of people in nursing homes by providing Tenant-Based
Housing Vouchers.

*Permitting the construction of new multifamily housing that does not
comply with the basic accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act
or Section 504

*Setting Housing Choice Voucher payment standards too low to permit people
with disabilities to have real choice in accessible housing

*Rolling back on local requirements for highly accessible housing (as the
City of El Paso has done recently, and brought on a complaint to HUD that
the City is failing to AFFH)

If you think any of these or your own ideas are impediments in your
locales to housing choice or have the effect of being impediments, find
out when your local/state Consolidated Plan or Public Housing Plan will be
updated and present your own list of impediments experienced by people
with disabilities to your local community development office or housing
authority.  If the local/state public officials do not include the
impediments you have identified in their Consolidated Plan or Public
Housing Plan and state how and when they will eliminate these impediments,
then you should file a complaint with HUD's Fair Housing and Equal
Opportunity Office in Washington, DC.

We'll then see if HUD walks the walk or merely talks the talk.

Special thanks to Michael Allen for his suggestions.

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues