HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH-2012-31providing guidance to public housing agencies (PHAs) regarding actions they may take to assist people with disabilities transition from institutions such as psychiatric hospitals to PHA-assisted housing. The guidance also applies to people who are at serious risk of being institutionalized.
The 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision held that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits unjustified segregation of individuals with disabilities. The court directed public entities serving qualified individuals with mental or physical disabilities to provide services in community settings rather than in institutions.
Regulations implementing Title II were written by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and are at 28 CFR 35. That rule requires public entities to administer their services, programs and activities “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” DOJ and the courts interpret the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (known as Section 504) as imposing the same integration mandate. HUD’s Section 504 regulations at 24 CFR 8 impose an affirmative obligation on PHAs to assess the housing needs of people with disabilities.
A June 22, 2009 letter from HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan urged PHAs to adopt a local admissions preference and provided detailed information on the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. MFP is a national program that provides grants to public entities to identify people in institutions who wish to transition to the community and for whom necessary supportive services are coordinated.
PIH Notice-2012-31provides a number of examples of actions PHAs may take, including:
- Establishing a local admissions preference to either the Housing Choice Voucher program or to public housing. Preferences must be approved by HUD’s Associate General Counsel for Fair Housing. The notice reminds PHAs that they must ensure that units occupied by people with disabilities are not clustered in a particular building, floor or within certain sections within a larger development.
- Expanding outreach to mental health facilities, social service agencies and hospitals.
- Highlighting the need for accessible housing to private providers and encouraging them to make accessibility modifications.
- Extending the time available for a household to search for an accessible unit.
- Taking applications for vouchers or public housing where a person with disabilities currently lives.
Secretary Donovan’s June 22, 2009 letter is attached to this page.
Download Technical Assistance Collaborative’s "The Olmstead Decision and Housing: Opportunity Knocks."