WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County (HAPGC), Maryland, after a HUD compliance review determined that HAPGC denied the reasonable accommodation requests of tenants with disabilities, failed to ensure program accessibility in existing facilities, and failed to make an adequate number of accessible units available. Read the agreement.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal financial assistance, and requires that recipients of federal financial assistance bring their programs and activities into compliance with federal accessibility requirements. In addition, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits state and local governmental entities from discriminating on the basis of disability in all services, activities, and programs.
“Reasonable accommodations and physical accessibility in homes can mean the world of difference to persons with mobility impairments and other disabilities,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement makes it clear that HUD is committed to working with housing providers to ensure that they meet their obligations to comply with the nation’s housing laws.”
The case began when the Department conducted a review to determine if HAPGC was in compliance with Section 504 and the ADA. The Department’s compliance review identified a lack of accessibility throughout HAPGC’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), Project Based Voucher (PBV), Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab), and Public Housing (PH) programs. Additionally, the review revealed that HAPGC staff routinely failed to respond to the reasonable accommodation requests of tenants.
Under the terms of the agreement, HAPGC will:
Ensure that at least 5 percent of its PH, PBV, and Mod Rehab units are fully accessible, and at least 2 percent are designated sensory accessible;
Hire an independent licensed architect to evaluate and design the accessible retrofitting of existing units and common areas;
Work with disability-rights organizations to recruit landlords with accessible units into the HCV program;
Set up a $200,000 compensation fund for HCV, PBV, Mod Rehab, and PH participants who were denied reasonable accommodations;
Create a $200,000 modification fund for its HCV program to pay the costs for tenants who need reasonable accommodations and modifications;
Appoint a VCA coordinator and a Fair Housing Compliance Coordinator during the 7-year term of the agreement;
Develop policies pertaining to non-discrimination and accessibility, reasonable accommodations, effective communication, transfers, and assistance animals and post the policies on its website; and
Ensure that all HAPGC staff attend annual fair housing training.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).