HUD and the City of Los Angeles signed a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) on August 2 regarding the City’s compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The VCA is the culmination of an effort by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) that began in the fall of 2011. Among many other provisions, Los Angeles agrees to retrofit 3,100 units of existing multifamily homes, ensure 15% of new or substantially rehabilitated multifamily units are accessible, and implement a detailed “Enhanced Accessibility Program.”
Over the next ten years, Los Angeles agrees to retrofit 3,100 units of existing multifamily homes in properties assisted with federal funds as well as certain city-assisted properties that do not have federal assistance. The retrofits will make 2,215 homes accessible to people who have mobility disabilities and 885 homes accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who are blind or have low vision.
The VCA calls for properties currently under development as well as those planned to be built or undergo substantial alteration over the next ten years to have 11% of their units with mobility features and 4% to have hearing/vision features.
The City must implement an “Enhanced Accessibility Program” that includes required and optional features developers must include in applications for competitive funding. Developers that include at least five of the optional features will receive bonus points.
In the fall of 2011, HUD conducted an on-site compliance review focusing on 22 properties, finding deficiencies related to the physical accessibility of individual homes and property common areas. HUD found bathrooms, for example, that could not accommodate wheelchairs and found kitchens with inaccessible sinks and counters. Also, routes to homes, laundry rooms, and common areas were not accessible.
HUD issued a Letter of Findings of Non-compliance with Section 504 and Title II on January 12, 2012. While a VCA was concluded on September 26, 2014, about the original 22 properties, Los Angeles had still not resolved all of the issues in the 2012 Letter of Findings. Recently, HUD issued a Supplemental Letter of Findings on April 1 detailing the City’s ongoing failure to provide accessible housing for low-income people with disabilities (see Memo, 4/8).
Section 504 prohibits discrimination against any individual with a disability solely based on the disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. HUD’s Section 504 regulation requires that new construction and the substantial alteration of multifamily housing projects assisted with federal funds have at least 5% of the homes accessible for people with mobility disabilities and an additional 2% of the homes accessible for people with hearing or vision disabilities.
Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in the services, programs, and activities of public entities, including agencies of state and local governments. The U.S. Department of Justice Title II ADA regulation mirrors HUD’s Section 504 regulation regarding housing units. Both Title II and Section 504 regulations also require that entities operate all services, programs, or activities so that they are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
The 2019 VCA is at: https://bit.ly/2MO40nk
A HUD-produced fact sheet is at: https://bit.ly/2M7agXQ
The 2014 VCA is at: https://bit.ly/2uJkJOm