MARCA BRISTO, WADE HENDERSON, BECCA VAUGHN. PHOTO BY TOM OLIN
We have laws to protect our access to housing. So why can't we find places to live? There are "startling inadequacies" in HUD's enforcement of housing law, according to the National Council on Disability"s 300-page November report to the President and Congress, "Reconstructing Fair Housing."
Written by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the report evaluated not HUD's poor-excuse-for-housing programs but its enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504. One finding: that by the late 1990s, "HUD had lost control of its own enforcement process."
While HUD received more than 12,000 disability discrimination complaints from 1988 to 2000, fewer than three percent resulted in findings of discrimination. And while Congress has set a 100-day benchmark for complaint investigations, disability complaint cases in the year 2000 required an average of 497 days to be closed.
Worse, according to the report, is "HUD's failure to provide consistent national leadership and management of the fair housing enforcement process" or to collect good data on noncompliance. These failures encourage "ignorance of, and disdain for, the laws," it said.
Not all the blame is attributable to HUD. Even if the agency had a heart for enforcement, the report said Congress fails to provide funding for that function.
You can download "Reconstructing Fair Housing" from NCD's website, www.ncd.gov, or order it by calling 202-272-2004 or (TTY) 202-272-2074. It"s free.
Hiding behind the news of America"s "war on terrorism," there"s a rush of bad news for freaks, monsters, and maniacs, most of it in the form of budget cuts for civil rights law enforcement and cuts to disability services. We don"t have room for even ten percent of it but we do offer two in-depth examples: on the facing page, bad news from Kansas Medicaid as a sample of what"s raining down in state capitals across the country; and on page 7, an in-depth look at arguments before the current Supreme Court from a reporter who listened in during Toyota v. Williams, a key ADA case. For the rest of the bad news,here are three excellent sources: