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--- Issued September 11, 2010

The Erie Housing Authority has reached a milestone regarding persons with disabilities and its obligations to them, which, under federal law, is to ensure that they are not denied the benefits of public housing in any way.

The Authority now has 110 fully accessible apartments and houses, having spent more than $15 million over the last seven years for renovations to houses, apartments, and community facilities necessary to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities.

Each of the Authority’s 16 different federally-assisted housing developments now has at least 5% accessible units. They range in size from one to four bedrooms and are scattered throughout the City. At the present time, 104 of the 110 units are occupied by persons with physical disabilities. Five are vacant and available for qualified applicants.

On Sept. 2, 2010 Executive Director John E. Horan wrote to the U.S. Department of Urban Development (HUD) that the Housing Authority of the City of Erie “has completed the necessary corrective actions” needed to satisfy the conditions and performance targets regarding persons with disabilities agreed upon by HACE and HUD in the Section 504 Voluntary Compliance Agreement signed by both parties in June of 2002.

In 2002, few of the 3,200 housing authority in the country were in compliance with Section 504 of the American with Disabilities Act.

The agreement stated that HACE would work to ensure that it provides the required number of accessible housing units for persons with disabilities and the accommodations allowing them full accessibility to public housing and all our facilities.

To do so, the Authority agreed to a number of corrective actions, including:

  • Appointing a “performance office” who would be charged with implementing Section 504 requirements;
  • Formulating a “Reasonable Accommodations Policy” to ensure that the needs of all residents and applicants are met;
  • Performing a “Needs Assessment” to determine the extent of need for accessible units;
  • Developing an “Implementation Plan” for fulfilling those needs;
  • Meeting “Performance Targets” to ensure that those needs are filled.

Under the Rehabilitation Act for 1973, Section 504 states that, “No otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Horan informed HUD that the Authority has completed the necessary actions to ensure that all requirements under Section 504 have been met and that any deficiencies under federal regulation have been corrected.