On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guidance to “encourage participation in state efforts” to assist individuals with disabilities who are “moving out of institutions and into [community-based] housing.” The guidance, titled “Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goals of Olmstead,” is part of HUD’s efforts to ensure compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C., in 1999, which held that unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities violdated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The HUD guidance notes that recipients of federal funding not only are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilites but also have an obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFHA). This obligation could include activities such as “providing integrated, affordable housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” developing or rehabilitating units that contain “universal accessibility and visitability features that go beyond the minimum accessibility requirements established by federal laws and regulations,” and affirmative marketing, and other “innovative ways to further the integration of individuals with disabilities throughout their communities.”
In a press release issued with the guidance, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan noted: “There is a tremendous need for affordable housing where individuals with disabilities are able to live and be part of the very fabric of their communities.” Donovan continued by stating
“HUD will continue to work with the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, Congress, our grantees, and disability rights organizations to ensure that HUD programs provide meaningful access to integrated housing opportunities for the individuals with disabilities we serve.”
In the guidance, HUD encourages Public Housing Agencies and other housing providers that receive federal financial assistance to “partner with state and local governments to provide additioanl community-based, integrated housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities transitioning out of, or at serious risk of entering, institutions or other segregated settings.” HUD notes that that the guidance is limited to HUD funding and programs and its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, while the Department of Justice has been delegated authority to interpret Title II of the ADA.
To read HUD’s full guidance, click here.
To read the Department of Justice’s statement on Title II of the ADA and the Olmstead decision, click here.