On September 26, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) announced that it had reached a voluntary compliance agreement (VCA) with the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA-LA), resolving allegations that housing developed through CRA-LA was inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Under the VCA, CRA-LA will spend approximately $2.8 million to retrofit 140 units as well as common areas at 22 properties so that they will be fully accessible.
CRA-LA, a subrecipient of the City of Los Angeles, used HOME Investment Partnerships Act funds, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds, and Community Development Block Grant Section108 Loan Guarantee funds in part to assist in the development of the 22 properties. In the fall of 2011, FHEO conducted an on-site compliance review of CRA-LA’s compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
FHEO’s review revealed deficiencies related to the physical accessibility of individual housing units and property common areas. For example, HUD found bathrooms that did not allow wheelchairs to maneuver in them, and kitchens with inaccessible sinks and counters. Routes to units, the laundry room, and common areas were not accessible. HUD also found that CRA-LA did not have policies and procedures in place to ensure that people with disabilities know their rights to accessible features. FHEO issued a Letter of Findings of non-compliance with Section 504 and Title II on January 12, 2012. Although CRA-LA disputes and does not admit the findings, it intends to work cooperatively with HUD.
Under the terms of the VCA, CRA-LA will require each owner to construct, convert, or demonstrate that housing units shall be made accessible according to Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). At least 5% of a property’s units must be accessible to people with physical disabilities, plus at least another 2% must be accessible to people with sensory (hearing or vision) impairments. One hundred UFAS mobility units and an additional 40 UFAS sensory units must be completed by no later than May 15, 2015.
If an owner reasonably demonstrates a need for CRA-LA assistance to fund any required repairs or retrofit work, CRA-LA will use some of the $2.8 million to supplement the cost of the work not otherwise paid by the owner. The units should be distributed throughout the property, and units should be available in a sufficient range of sizes and amenities so that a person with disabilities has a choice of living arrangements comparable to those who do not have a disability.
In addition to the $2.8 million, CRA-LA will also appoint a staff person to act as the Administrator and Section 504/ADA Coordinator, and commit sufficient resources to that role during the five-year term of the VCA. Also, CRA-LA will set aside an estimated $500,000 to hire HUD-approved consultants to identify specific physical corrections that must be made in the 22 CRA-LA properties.
A HUD media release is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2014/HUDNo_14-113b