On June 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County (HAPGC), Maryland after a HUD compliance review determined that HAPGC denied the reasonable accommodation requests of tenants with disabilities, failed to ensure program accessibility in existing facilities, and failed to make an adequate number of accessible units available.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal financial assistance and requires that recipients of federal financial assistance bring their programs and activities into compliance with federal accessibility requirements. In addition, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits state and local governmental entities from discriminating on the basis of disability in all services, activities, and programs.
The case began when HUD conducted a review to determine if HAPGC was compliant with Section 504 and the ADA. The HUD compliance review identified a lack of accessibility throughout HAPGC’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), Project-Based Voucher (PBV), Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab), and Public Housing (PH) programs. The review also revealed that HAPGC staff routinely failed to respond to the reasonable accommodation requests of tenants.
Under the terms of the agreement, HAPGC will:
- Ensure that at least 5% of its PH, PBV, and Mod Rehab units are fully accessible, and at least 2% are designated sensory (i.e., hearing and vision) accessible;
- Hire an independent licensed architect to evaluate and design the accessible retrofitting of existing units and common areas;
- Work with disability-rights organizations to recruit landlords with accessible units into the HCV program;
- Set up a $200,000 compensation fund for HCV, PBV, Mod Rehab, and PH participants who were denied reasonable accommodations;
- Create a $200,000 modification fund for its HCV program to pay the costs for tenants who need reasonable accommodations and modifications;
- Appoint a VCA coordinator and a Fair Housing Compliance Coordinator during the seven-year term of the agreement;
- Develop policies pertaining to non-discrimination and accessibility, reasonable accommodations, effective communication, transfers, and assistance animals and post the policies on its website; and
- Ensure that all HAPGC staff attend annual fair housing training.