March 25, 2003 --
Accessible and affordable housing remains one of the most intractable problems facing people with disabilities. "For people with disabilities, this problem is even more acute, because affordability is also conditioned by inaccessibility, availability, and discrimination," said the National Council on Disability in a report. "While levels of home ownership for most Americans are at near historic highs, rates of home ownership for Americans with disabilities remain shockingly low, languishing in the single digits. In its report, "Reconstructing Fair Housing" (online at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/fairhousing.html), NCD catalogued "serious, pervasive, and persistent weaknesses and failures in the Federal Government's enforcement of nondiscrimination laws in the area of fair housing."
"Most housing issues are local to your city or county," says attorney Steve Gold. But there are ways, he says, that disability advocates "can increase the supply of affordable, accessible, and integrated housing. Every state has a state housing agency that, at least, allocates low-income housing tax credits," he explains. "Most state housing agencies receive community development block grants that are used for low-income housing, and many states allocate section 8 rental housing vouchers and have a 'HOME' program, whether for new construction or rental assistance. Quite a few have some responsibility for housing codes." Advocates can use each of these resources, he says; in "Statewide Housing Strategies," his Info Bulletin #47, he offers suggestions for how to do just that. Read Info Bulletin #47 at http://www.stevegoldada.com/stevegoldada/cgi/getlink.cgi?70R
The U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has a national Fair Housing accessibility training program, free, to groups who request it. "HUD is particularly interested in presenting training sessions at conferences and meetings, especially for developers and others in the building industry," says trainer Bonnie Milstein. The building community, officials and advocates can all benefit. For more information on the program, visit http://www.fairhousingfirst.org