[Hpn] Who Put The Fair In Fair Housing? Hint They Did Not Have A Disability!

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 15 Jun 2005 08:44:27 -0400


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Fair Housing Isn't Fair
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      Who Put the 'Fair' in 'Fair Housing'?
      (Hint: They Didn't Have a Disability)

      By Patricia Vincent-Piet=20


      Where's all the accessible housing? Are there simply too few =
accessible units? Or are people with disabilities just missing the =
plethora of accessible units that do exist?=20

           In reality, fewer than one percent of all multi-family units =
are accessible -- despite the law=20

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      Here in New Hampshire, we've gotten a partial answer, thanks to =
the studies New Hampshire Housing (New Hampshire's statewide housing =
authority) has done on housing production prior to and after 1991.=20

      During the economic boom of the 1980s, housing in the state was =
over-built -- and when the economy started to decline dramatically in =
1990, new building all but stopped as vacancy rates rose to an =
unheard-of 15 percent, and property values plummeted.=20

      The economy recovered, however, and those vacant units =
disappeared, pushing the vacancy rate back down below 5 percent in 1996. =
It's been down below 1 percent since 2003.=20

      Even though the demand for housing has grown, the supply has not. =
New units built since 1991, particularly multifamily units, are just a =
tiny percentage of the overall housing unit count in NH.=20

      New Hampshire's experience in the last decades mirrors national =
housing trends.=20


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      People with disabilities were not added to the Fair Housing Act =
until 1991. Therefore accessible units were not required in new =
market-rate multifamily buildings during the entire building boom of the =
80s.=20

      And the Act's "5-percent rule" -- that is, 5 percent of units must =
be accessible -- only applies to multi-family construction of 4 units or =
more. And it applies only to housing built after 1991. In New Hampshire, =
this is very small percentage of total units.=20

      And given that new townhomes are not included in the Fair Housing =
Act's 5-percent rule, the percentage of accessible housing units =
declines even further.=20

      This, too, is pretty much the case nationwide.=20

      Even if the 5-percent rule met the need for accessible housing -- =
which it doesn't -- far fewer than 5 percent of all multi-family units =
are accessible. The count is really way below 1 percent.=20

      Why should we be concerned about market-rate housing? Don't most =
people with disabilities need subsidized housing?=20

      While it is true that nearly 80 percent of people with =
disabilities live below the poverty line, there are two compelling =
reasons for the disability community to concentrate on making a greater =
percentage of market-rate housing accessible:=20

      The first has to do with housing vouchers: Housing Choice Vouchers =
-- also known as Section 8 vouchers -- can only be used with housing =
that is not already subsidized. This includes both voucher set-asides =
for people with disabilities and "mainstream" vouchers. But it is =
impossible for people with disabilities to use these vouchers when there =
are no accessible units!=20

      The second has to do with efforts to move people with disabilities =
out of poverty. Recent changes to Medicaid law allow people to find =
employment with decent pay while retaining the services they need. =
Ideally, they will then join "the middle class." Problem is, when they =
arrive, there won't be any place to live. Accessible market-rate housing =
is necessary in order for people with disabilities to break out of the =
cycle of poverty.=20

      Fair Housing is far from fair. Whether we work to change the law =
or get developers to see the profitability of creating more accessible =
or adaptable housing, we must make the nation aware that there simply is =
not enough accessible and integrated housing out there -- at any price.=20


      Posted June 13, 2005.

      Patricia Vincent-Piet is the Housing/ Accessibility Specialist =
with the Granite State Independent Living Center in Concord, NH.=20

      WHAT DO YOU THINK of what you've just read? Click to tell us.


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=A9 Copyright 2005 by The Advocado Press=20

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      <P>&nbsp;</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P>
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      <P>&nbsp;</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P>
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      <BLOCKQUOTE></BLOCKQUOTE>
      <P><FONT face=3D"times new roman, times, serif" color=3D#510000 =
size=3D+3>Who=20
      Put the 'Fair' in 'Fair Housing'?<BR>(Hint: They Didn't Have a=20
      Disability)</P></FONT>
      <P><FONT face=3D"Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" =
size=3D2>By <A=20
      href=3D"#bio">Patricia Vincent-Piet </A></FONT>
      <P><FONT face=3D"times new roman, times, serif" color=3D#000000 =
size=3D3>
      <P align=3Dleft>Where's all the accessible housing? Are there =
simply too few=20
      accessible units? Or are people with disabilities just missing the =

      plethora of accessible units that do exist? </P>
      <TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D6 width=3D220 align=3Dright =
border=3D0=20
      VSPACE=3D"6">
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD width=3D2></TD>
          <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft bgColor=3D#ffffff><FONT=20
            face=3D"Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" color=3Dred =
size=3D2>In=20
            reality, fewer than one percent of all multi-family units =
are=20
            accessible -- despite the law=20
            <P></FONT>
            <HR noShade SIZE=3D1>
          </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
      <P align=3Dleft>Here in New Hampshire, we've gotten a partial =
answer, thanks=20
      to the studies New Hampshire Housing (New Hampshire's statewide =
housing=20
      authority) has done on housing production prior to and after 1991. =
</P>
      <P align=3Dleft>During the economic boom of the 1980s, housing in =
the state=20
      was over-built -- and when the economy started to decline =
dramatically in=20
      1990, new building all but stopped as vacancy rates rose to an =
unheard-of=20
      15 percent, and property values plummeted. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>The economy recovered, however, and those vacant =
units=20
      disappeared, pushing the vacancy rate back down below 5 percent in =
1996.=20
      It's been down below 1 percent since 2003. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>Even though the demand for housing has grown, the =
supply has=20
      not. New units built since 1991, particularly multifamily units, =
are just=20
      a tiny percentage of the overall housing unit count in NH. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>New Hampshire's experience in the last decades =
mirrors=20
      national housing trends. </P>
      <HR width=3D90 color=3Dred>

      <P align=3Dleft>People with disabilities were not added to the =
Fair Housing=20
      Act until 1991. Therefore accessible units were not required in =
new=20
      market-rate multifamily buildings during the entire building boom =
of the=20
      80s. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>And the Act's "5-percent rule" -- that is, 5 =
percent of=20
      units must be accessible -- only applies to multi-family =
construction of 4=20
      units or more. And it applies only to housing built after 1991. In =
New=20
      Hampshire, this is very small percentage of total units. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>And given that new townhomes are not included in =
the Fair=20
      Housing Act's 5-percent rule, the percentage of accessible housing =
units=20
      declines even further. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>This, too, is pretty much the case nationwide. =
</P>
      <P align=3Dleft>Even if the 5-percent rule met the need for =
accessible=20
      housing -- which it doesn't -- far fewer than 5 percent of all=20
      multi-family units are accessible. The count is really way below 1 =

      percent. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>Why should we be concerned about market-rate =
housing? Don't=20
      most people with disabilities need subsidized housing? </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>While it is true that nearly 80 percent of people =
with=20
      disabilities live below the poverty line, there are two compelling =
reasons=20
      for the disability community to concentrate on making a greater =
percentage=20
      of market-rate housing accessible: </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>The first has to do with housing vouchers: Housing =
Choice=20
      Vouchers -- also known as Section 8 vouchers -- can only be used =
with=20
      housing that is not already subsidized. This includes both voucher =

      set-asides for people with disabilities and "mainstream" vouchers. =
But it=20
      is impossible for people with disabilities to use these vouchers =
when=20
      there are no accessible units! </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>The second has to do with efforts to move people =
with=20
      disabilities out of poverty. Recent changes to Medicaid law allow =
people=20
      to find employment with decent pay while retaining the services =
they need.=20
      Ideally, they will then join "the middle class." Problem is, when =
they=20
      arrive, there won't be any place to live. Accessible market-rate =
housing=20
      is necessary in order for people with disabilities to break out of =
the=20
      cycle of poverty. </P>
      <P align=3Dleft>Fair Housing is far from fair. Whether we work to =
change the=20
      law or get developers to see the profitability of creating more =
accessible=20
      or adaptable housing, we must make the nation aware that there =
simply is=20
      not enough accessible and integrated housing out there -- at any =
price.=20
      </P>
      <P align=3Dleft></P>
      <P align=3Dright><I>Posted June 13, 2005.</I></P>
      <P align=3Dleft><A name=3Dbio></A><I>Patricia Vincent-Piet is the =
Housing/=20
      Accessibility Specialist with the <A href=3D"http://www.gsil.org"=20
      target=3Dnew>Granite State Independent Living Center</A> in =
Concord, NH.=20
      </I></P>
      <P align=3Dcenter><FONT face=3D"Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, =
sans-serif"=20
      size=3D2><B>WHAT DO YOU THINK</B> of what you've just read? <A=20
      href=3D"http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/feedback.shtml">Click to =
tell=20
      us.</A></FONT></P><A name=3Dltrs></A>
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