Monday, June 10, 2013
HUD Issues Olmstead Guidance – Let’s Use It! Information Bulletin #382 (6/2013) On June 4, 2013 HUD released a “Statement … on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goals of Olmstead.” Here is the link to HUD’s Statement: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2013/HUDNo.13-086 Then click on “Read HUD’s new guidance” for the full Statement. This Information Bulletin quotes some points and suggests what advocates should look for and what can be done if your local and State recipients of HUD funds do not comply. HUD emphasizes the critical role housing plays in implementing the Olmstead and the ADA’s “most integrated setting” mandate by “increasing the housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from, or at serious risk of entering, institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other restrictive, segregated settings.” Advocates throughout the country have repeatedly testified that the lack of affordable, integrated, accessible housing is and has been a very significant barrier for people institutionalized (who cannot afford or locate housing because they have no money or their money goes to the institution) and people at risk of institutionalization (who, to stay out of an institution, must have accessible units in the community). Advocates know that HUD funded programs, in the past, have not focused on and have not required public recipients of HUD funds to focus on Olmstead and the ADA mandates for integration. The HUD Statement is intended to ensure compliance with Olmstead and the ADA. HUD recognizes that “a critical consideration in each state is the range of housing options available in the community for individuals with disabilities and whether those options are largely limited to living with other individuals with disabilities, or whether those options include substantial opportunities for individuals with disabilities to live and interact with individuals without disabilities.” HUD provides three examples of integrated housing: 1. “scattered-site apartments providing permanent supportive housing [that could be rented with Section 8 vouchers],  tenant-based rental assistance [a housing voucher authorized in the HOME Investment Partnership program, administered nationally at both the State and local levels] that enables individuals with disabilities to lease housing in integrated developments, and  apartments for individuals with various disabilities scattered throughout public and multifamily housing developments.” HUD told “public housing agencies and other HUD-assisted housing providers to work with state and local governments to provide integrated, affordable and accessible housing options for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from, or at serious risk of entering, institutions or other segregated settings.” (Let’s hope they will work also with advocates and people with disabilities.) In another example [#4], HUD reminded both public housing agencies and other recipients of HUD assistance that “certain preferences [both with regards to actual housing and housing vouchers] that will enable individuals with disabilities … are permissible.” No more excuses that HUD-funded programs cannot establish preferences to assist institutionalized persons to return to the community or to prevent the institutionalization of people who are at risk of such institutionalization. A fifth example focused on “reasonable accommodations/ modifications (e.g., increasing the payment standard for Housing voucher for accessible units, or an extra bedroom for equipment or live-in aide). The Statement pointed out that “HUD requires recipients of HUD assistance [that includes public housing agencies, housing vouchers, the HOME tenant-based rental assistance vouchers, CDBG, and lots of other recipients] to take affirmative steps to further fair housing. The affirmative furthering fair housing (AFFH) obligation offers an opportunity for HUD and the recipients of HUD assistance to support Olmstead implementation by engaging in activities that will benefit individuals transitioning from institutions or at serious risk of institutionalization by providing integrated, affordable and accessible housing options in community-based settings.” What advocates should do to find out if HUD really means it. Here are a few possible strategies: 1. Do your local and state Consolidated Plans show that all of the above five examples are being implemented? Or even planned for the future? For example, are there “preferences” in both actual housing and housing choice vouchers (aka Section 8) for people institutionalized or at risk? 2. Do your local and/or State recipients of HOME Investment Partnership federal funds provide for tenant-based rental assistance for people institutionalized or at risk? Have any been actually provided in the past to end institutionalization? Are they needed in your State? 3. Has your public housing authority provided for scattered-site accessible housing throughout your community? Are more needed? Planned for? If there are people in institutions whom you, the advocates, know are institutionalized because of housing – either because they do not have funds for rent, security deposits, etc., or because they cannot locate accessible units they can afford, then your local and State recipients of HUD funds have failed to “affirmatively further fair housing.” These local and State recipients of HUD funds are in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. HUD should be notified of these violations so it can remedy the situation and ensure people are not unnecessarily institutionalized. File a Complaint (be as specific as possible) with HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C. and send a copy of your Complaint to Jeanine Worden, Associate General Counsel, Jeanine.M.Worden@HUD.gov, or to Sara Pratt, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, Sara.K.Prattt@HUD.gov. All italicizations are added. Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues. Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at http://www.stevegoldada.com with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. Information Bulletins will also be posted on my blog located at http://stevegoldada.blogspot.com/ To contact Steve Gold directly, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-627-7100. Ext 227.