Fair Housing Means Access and Accommodation

The June 22, 2021 Fair Housing webinar focused on fair housing considerations for people with disabilities. Several key stakeholders involved in disability rights and advocacy participated in the discussion of fair housing protections in light of the current housing crisis, which impacts people with disabilities and other protected classes much harder that it does the general population.

One question came up in the follow-up discussion:

What is the statute of limitations on filing a fair housing complaint? HUD’s position:

FHEO begins its complaint investigation process shortly after receiving a complaint. You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Other civil rights authorities allow for complaints to be filed after one year for good cause, but FHEO recommends filing as soon as possible.

The group agreed that those in the areas of housing and community development would benefit from a more inclusive planning and design process that engages people with disabilities to inform strategies that make communities more livable and affordable to everyone.

Links to session materials and referenced resources:

Why fair housing matters to…

As part of a Fair Housing Innovative Partnership – Education Outreach Initiative (FHIP-EOI) grant, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) created a series of first-person videos to understand how fair housing impacts all people. The idea was to interview individuals protected by fair housing laws, as well as employers, economists, developers, housing providers, planners and advocates.

These videos are available for sharing via social media, and provide first-hand, unscripted perspectives of real Idahoans and experts in several fields.

Most Americans understand the Fair Housing Act as landmark Civil Rights legislation prohibiting housing discrimination against members of protected classes and requiring reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. Increasingly, research shows overall economic and social benefits made possible through more diverse communities, and economic opportunities created through housing choice—the right to live where we choose and can afford.

Economic opportunity depends on several factors made possible through fair housing choice, including access to essential community resources like employment, education, social services, recreation and transportation. At a very basic level, housing choice lets us build social capital—the network of trusted relationships and connections that can lead to better jobs, child care, and civic engagement.

As several interviewees point out, the social diversity made possible through fair housing is essential to a more diverse and resilient economy. Members of protected classes bring fresh perspective, ideas and energy that can boost productivity and efficiency; they become economic producers and entrepreneurs who create jobs. At the same time, they are consumers helping drive demand for more diverse products and services, which also creates additional employment opportunities. All of this generates economic energy and demand for taxable goods and services.

As author Jim Tankersley (The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True History of America’s Middle Class) sums it up,

…if you could give me one thing to do to supercharge the economy, I would say, end discrimination across the American economy. Discrimination is holding back our economy. It’s holding back our middle class.

Please take a few moments to explore these first-person videos to understand the importance fair housing through a different lens, and help spread the word by sharing them with others.

Spanish-language interviews | En Español

URGENT: Need Masks and PPE for People with Disabilities and Caregivers

During the COVID19 pandemic and mask shortage it’s amazing to see the army of seamstresses, quilters makers and businesses stepping up to help others. Support for front-line health care professionals—doctors and nurses caring for patients—makes everyone proud.

Other groups are in desperate need of masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and we need to keep them out of our hospitals at all costs. Persons with disability, seniors and anyone recovering from illness or injury—and their personal assistants—are at high risk for COVID19 and can’t compete for PPE.

In-home personal care professionals assist multiple individuals each day—and few if any have access to masks or other PPE right now.

They need your help—desperately.


How You Can Help

Contact Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC)

Phone: 208-336-3335 | email:

Donated masks will be distributed to high-risk individuals and providers. We need to flatten the curve among this population to support doctors and nurses. Some funds available for materials.

Spread the word! Downloadable flier: PPE4PWD

This project is coordinated among:

Thank you!


“Currently, I have three personal assistants coming in and out of my home who have no protective masks. Also, my friend picks up groceries and medical supplies for me and my other friends with disabilities who have compromised health conditions. He also has a comprised health condition. None of us can find masks”

—Dana Gover, Northwest ADA Center-Idaho

 

Poor Planning Creates Barriers

Beyond a focus on Fair Housing law, we all need to be aware of barriers to community mobility as well. During a 2019 access audit of a new subdivision in Boise’s Harris Ranch, planning and design barriers were evident throughout the ‘walk and roll’ event. From the absence of Greenbelt access indicators to steep connecting ramps, missing or misaligned curb cuts, and even surface materials, we encountered multiple opportunities for improved mobility and access.

Images of the bridge connecting the neighborhood with foothills trails. Upper left shows the small front wheels of a wheelchair trapped in the bridge deck grating; right and lower left photos shows bridge decking with participants looking on as the tip of a white cane gets caught in the decking, and guide dog avoiding the decking surface. Take the bridge decking in the photo at left. The openings are the perfect size to trap small front wheels on a manual chair or swallow the tip of a cane. It’s also a surface service dogs might perceive as unsafe. This is a perfect example of the need to include a range of voices in the planning process. Problems can be addressed before injury occurs.

Until you’ve tried to navigate your community without full vision, hearing or mobility, access is often an afterthought. And remember, construction can create life-threatening barriers and hazards, as in this 2018 story about ongoing problems with road construction in and around Boise.

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Boise construction zone tricky for people with disabilities

Highway signs in the path of travel can trip a pedestrian or force them into the roadway. This is not a mere incovenience; it can create a life-threatening situation. We all need to increase our access awareness and take an active role in creating barrier-free communities.

Navigating a maze of randomly placed construction barriers.

ACHD contractors place barricades and signs at random, creating seious hazards for pedestrians and cyclists.