HUD chief makes commitments to ADAPT
Washington, D.C.— This time around ADAPT didn’t have to shut down HUD headquarters, because, as HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson stated, “I came to you.” Jackson and three members of his staff recently met with 500 members of ADAPT in their Washington, D.C., hotel. By the end of the morning, Jackson had stated unequivocally that “Fair Housing is a right.” And he made a number of commitments to ADAPT, including:
• Agreeing to inform ADAPT, before the September ADAPT action in Chicago, on how many housing vouchers for persons with disabilities he has recovered from the 58% loss in vouchers that the disability community suffered in recent years. The loss is due to a combination of federal budget cuts and misappropriation of vouchers by local entities that administer the voucher program in communities across the country.
• Vowing to eliminate the “outrageous” level of discrimination in housing against persons with disabilities. HUD recently reported that 40% of the Fair Housing complaints filed with HUD are based on the “protected class” of disability. This number surpasses, for the first time in history, the percentage of complaints filed on the basis of race (39%).
• Promising to facilitate a meeting between ADAPT and Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Maxine Waters (D-CA). Frank is Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Waters is Chair of the Financial Services Committee’s Sub-committee on Housing and Community Opportunity. This committee and sub-committee are responsible for legislation affecting changes to the Section 811 program. ADAPT is calling for a restructuring of the Sec. 811 housing program to provide affordable, accessible, integrated housing, as well as increase the number of vouchers available to persons with disabilities, both of which will require action by Congress. Sec. 811 is the segregated housing program for persons with disabilities. The segregated housing program for older persons is Sec. 202.
• Committing to work with ADAPT on implementing ADAPT’s Access Across America Program, which would provide housing vouchers to persons with disabilities in nursing homes and ICFMRs that, combined with Money Follows the Person and previously existing initiatives in the states, will get people out of nursing homes and into affordable, accessible, integrated housing in their own communities.
• Promising to meet with ADAPT three times a year, with the next meeting most likely occurring in Chicago during the next ADAPT action, September 8-13.
“ADAPT is pleased that Sec. Jackson came to us, and we are cautiously optimistic at this point,” said Cassie James, Philadelphia ADAPT Organizer. “His own personal experience with discrimination gives him a window into the unconscionable discrimination in obtaining affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is experienced by people with disabilities all over America. We look forward to the Secretary keeping his commitments and partnering with us to improve the current sad state of affairs.”