Assemblymember Paulin's Able Column
Assembly Aims to Improve Accessible Housing
for People with Disabilities
September 2005

It is no secret that the lack of accessible and affordable housing for people with disabilities is a significant problem that is desperately waiting for some solutions. In fact, it could easily be described as one of the biggest issues that the disability community is facing today. These days, we hear about the call to provide services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs, yet when people attempt to locate housing that will safely and adequately fit their needs, they are often disappointed to find little or no accessible units - especially in an affordable price range.

The Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities has been working specifically on the effort to increase the amount of appropriate housing for people with disabilities. We held a public hearing on this very issue in April of 2004. So far, during the 2005 Legislative Session, the Assembly passed two measures aimed at improving accessible housing for people with disabilities. They include:

  • A.7867 (Paulin)/S.4933 (Morahan) - Requires any program or activity relating to housing which receives federal financial assistance to comply with the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. New York's disability advocates have identified a lack of enforcement of Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, which contains accessibility requirements for certain housing, in New York State. Specifically, advocates have noted that some single and multi-family projects that have received federal monies through the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, local participating jurisdictions and the Housing Finance Agency are not in compliance with Section 504. The incorporation of Section 504 and the clarification of enforcement responsibility in state law would assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining accessible housing by ensuring that accessible units are built and are occupied by those who need them.

  • A.7868 (Paulin)/S.4875 (Morahan) - Enacts a New York State housing registry containing up-to-date information regarding accessible housing statewide for people with disabilities. Locating housing that meets the needs of people with disabilities is a challenging task because many people with disabilities face a twofold problem. Many live on a fixed income, and cannot afford the high cost of housing, so they are very limited to the few units that are both inexpensive and accessible. A statewide accessible housing registry in New York State would help correct the issue of locating suitable housing for people with disabilities.

Furthermore, the Task Force is supporting a bill (A.4622-Lavelle/S.3907-Spano) that prohibits discrimination in the rental and sale of housing on the basis of source of income, and we are working with disability advocates to develop legislation that would create a housing trust fund for people with disabilities. Please be assured that accessible housing will continue to be a top priority as the 2006 Legislative Session approaches. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to continue contacting your local Senators and the Governor's office regarding the critical nature of these measures. Let them know that we won't quit the fight for accessible housing until we win!

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