HUD guidance to HUD-assisted housing providers describes how they can support state and local Olmstead efforts to increase integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities who are transitioning from, or at serious risk of entering, institutions and other restrictive, segregated settings.
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 people who have mental or physical disabilities to provide services in community settings rather than in institutions.
Many states are attempting to assist people living in institutions to move to integrated, community-based settings where they can live, work, and receive health care and long-term services and supports. However, there is a lack of integrated and affordable housing options for people with disabilities.
HUD’s guidance briefly summarizes the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Olmstead. The relationship between HUD programs and Olmstead is explained in a nine-part Question and Answer format. For example, the answer to the first question defines and describes the expression “most integrated setting;” in short, integrated settings enable people with disabilities to live like those without disabilities.
HUD encourages housing providers to have preferences supporting Olmstead efforts by giving priority to people with disabilities. General preferences for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from or at serious risk of entering an institutional setting are permissible. Preferences that target individuals with specific disabilities or diagnoses may be authorized if connected to remedial actions in response to: Department of Justice enforcement; Olmstead-related court settlements or litigation; and voluntary, affirmative Olmstead planning and implementation efforts by state and local governments. However, any such preferences must be reviewed and approved by HUD.
Some HUD programs have statutory authority to limit eligibility to individuals with disabilities, such as Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, Section 202 Housing for non-elderly people with disabilities, HUD-VASH vouchers, and a few others.
Examples of reasonable accommodations required by Section 504 and ADA include:
- Allocating an extra bedroom for a person with a disability when needed, such as for medical equipment or a live-in aide.
- A higher voucher payment standard to ensure that a household can rent a unit that meets the need of someone with a disability.
- An application process that has flexible procedures or locations, and extended application periods.
- Housing providers receiving federal financial assistance must make and pay for structural changes to housing units and public use areas to accommodate a person with disabilities.