The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (NYSE:HUD) has reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA-LA) to ensure that persons with disabilities will have access to government funded housing projects.
The agreement was reached to resolved allegations that housing funded by the agency CRA-LA was inaccessible to persons with disabilities. The deal stated that CRA-LA would spend approximately $2.8 million to retrofit 140 units as well as common areas in 22 properties to make them fully accessible.
"Today's agreement reaffirms HUD's commitment to ensuring that housing funded by the federal government meets the needs of persons with disabilities," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "We commend LA's Community Redevelopment Agency for working cooperatively with HUD to resolve this matter and for agreeing to retrofit the units."
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of disability, including failing to meet accessibility standards. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act imposes similar requirements on state and local governments. In order to ensure that recipients of HUD funding comply with these requirements, HUD routinely conducts inspections and reviews.
In 2011, when HUD inspected properties funded by CRA-LA, it found that units were inaccessible to persons with disabilities, in violation of Section 504 and Title II of the ADA, including having bathrooms that would not allow a wheelchair to maneuver in them as well as kitchens whose sinks and counters were inaccessible to persons with disabilities. HUD's review determined that routes and parking spaces that were designed for persons with disabilities were not actually fully accessible. In addition, CRA-LA did not have policies and procedures in place to ensure that persons with disabilities know their rights to accessible features or accessible units.
Under the terms of the agreement, CRA-LA will spend approximately $2.8 million to retrofit inaccessible units at 22 properties. Specifically, the funds will supplement corrective actions that will be conducted by the owners of the properties to create at least 100 fully-accessible units and 40 units that are accessible for persons with sensory disabilities. CRA-LA will also appoint a Section 504/ADA coordinator to ensure residents are aware of their rights and provide as much as $500,000 to hire a HUD-approved consultant to review retrofitted properties and recommend accessibility changes.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Meanwhile, several media reports said that the U.S. housing industry has shown rebound. Now that demand is slowly climbing up again, realtors have less to worry about as most of them aim to reach year-end or monthly quotas.
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