Three disability rights organizations secured a legal settlement with the City of Los Angeles that will ensure that affordable housing units assisted by the City will meet accessibility standards required by federal and state law. The City agreed to devote a minimum of $20 million per year over the next ten years in order to make at least 4,000 affordable units comply with accessibility laws.
The Independent Living Center of Southern California, Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, and the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley brought suit against the City of Los Angeles in January, 2012, alleging that the City discriminated against people with disabilities by failing to ensure that multifamily housing funded, developed, or significantly assisted by the City is accessible and made meaningfully available to people with disabilities. The plaintiffs claimed the City violated Title II of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA), Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” and California law that requires housing built with federal and state financial assistance to meet specific accessibility requirements.
The suit cited the 2008-2013 Consolidated Plan, which indicated that in 2000, 20.4% of the population of Los Angeles five years old and older had a disability and 45% of the population 65 years old and older had a disability. Nearly 25% of disabled adults and 66% of adults over the age of 65 had physical limitations, and 24% of the people with disabilities had vision or hearing limitations.
The plaintiffs listed 61 multifamily projects consisting of 4,140 units for which the City (and the now defunct Community Redevelopment Agency) provided CDBG, HOME, and/or Affordable Housing Trust Fund resources to support new construction or substantial alteration. The plaintiffs alleged that none of these projects contained units accessible to people with mobility and/or auditory or visual impairments in sufficient numbers, sizes, and locations to provide people with disabilities meaningful access.
For housing newly constructed or substantially rehabilitated after April 12, 2016, the City agreed to require developers to make at least 10% of the units comply with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) for mobility accessibility and an additional 4% of the units comply with UFAS requirements for sensory accessibility. These units are to be affordable for households with incomes at 30%, 50%, and 80% of the area median income. The City may count toward the 4,000-unit obligation up to 20% of the units in a single development that meet UFAS requirements, provided that no more than 5% of these units are designed for sensory accessibility.
The City also agreed to inspect housing developments previously assisted by the City to determine their compliance and to require that their owners, to the extent possible, carry out construction to remedy non-compliance.
The settlement agreement and other information is at: http://bit.ly/2bSpgWt