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HUD Interim Rule on PHAS.  Feldman, public comment
HUD Interim Rule on PHAS.  Feldman, public comment
HUD Interim Rule on PHAS.  Feldman, public comment
HUD Interim Rule on PHAS.  Feldman, public comment
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HUD Interim Rule on PHAS. Feldman, public comment

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  • 1. Docket No. FR-5094-I-02 Public Housing Evaluation and Oversight: Changes to the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Determining and Remedying Substantial DefaultApril 25, 2011Regulations Division, Office of General CounselDepartment of Housing and Urban Development451 Seventh Street, SW., Room 10276Washington, DC 20410-0500Claudia Yarus, Department of Housing and Urban Development,Office of Public and Indian Housing, Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC)550 12th Street, SW., Suite 100Washington, DC 20410Thank you for providing an opportunity for public input regarding the interim rule,Document Citation: 76 FR 10136, which establishes new regulations for 24 CFRParts 901, 902, and 907, Public Housing Evaluation and Oversight: Changes to thePublic Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Determining and RemedyingSubstantial Default.The Community Access Project is based out of Somerville, MA. We collaborate withand serve low-income Americans with lifelong disabilities who document, reportand work without pay to eradicate ongoing systemic barriers to integrated and equalopportunities and services that are sponsored, in whole or in part, by local, state andfederal government.In the past several years we have been examining the continuing policy andprocedural barriers that leave over 40% of low-income Americans with disabilitiesdealing with worst-case housing needs and an ongoing emergency housing crisis.The issues range from being homeless as a result of lack of adequate accessibletemporary shelters to being scorned and humiliated from seeking their legitimate andFair Housing rights--within communities that annually receive millions of dollars inCDBG and HOME allocations; and annually certify that they are affirmativelyfurthering our fair housing rights.We have discovered that the majority of Massachusetts PHAs, whether linked toState agency oversight or to local Entitlement oversight, carry forward, year after COMMUNITY ACCESS PROJECT, SOMERVILLE, MA. 4/25/11. PAGE 1 OF 4
  • 2. Docket No. FR-5094-I-02 Public Housing Evaluation and Oversight: Changes to the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Determining and Remedying Substantial Defaultyear, the very structural and communications impediments that encumber low-income Americans with disabilities from accessing equitable opportunities at PHA-managed and HUD-funded housing and economic self-sufficiency programs.The FR says, "The new default regulations, “specify the actions or inactions by whicha PHA can be determined to be in substantial default, the procedures for a PHA torespond to such a determination or finding, and the sanctions available to HUD toaddress and remedy substantial default by a PHA.”HUD says, "The physical inspection standards, established under 24 CFR part 5, areoutside the scope of this rulemaking."However, the PHAS standards for physical inspections still do not score physicalcomponents that are found to be structurally noncompliant with Section 504/UFASstandards.We read that HUD plans to update its requirements related to the Physical NeedsAssessment in a separate rulemaking. HUD states that, "The independent physicalinspections, which commenced in 1998, have provided an essential tool for HUD inmonitoring its public housing and multifamily portfolios and in raising the standardsof operations with respect to maintaining the physical condition of public housingproperties. The costs of HUDs physical and financial oversight operations amount toa little more than 0.3 percent of the Capital Fund appropriation, of which these costsare an appropriated administrative offset."The ongoing failure to integrate such crucially necessary structural accessibilitystandards into HUDs PHAS physical inspection scoring system represents a criticalwaste of PHAS program resources. These omissions flow into all programs andother regulatory linkages that refer to, and rely upon, the data and assessmentsroutinely collected during the PHAS program. These omissions interdependentlylimit the capacity of the public housing operating fund program to proactivelygenerate remedial agreements with PHAs to overcome such civil rights impedimentsas one outcome of PHAS inspections. COMMUNITY ACCESS PROJECT, SOMERVILLE, MA. 4/25/11. PAGE 2 OF 4
  • 3. Docket No. FR-5094-I-02 Public Housing Evaluation and Oversight: Changes to the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Determining and Remedying Substantial DefaultAs a consequence of HUDs deferential non-response to glaring Section 504-relateddeficiencies in PHA buildings, programs and planning efforts, PHAs continuouslyignore and defer their obligations to update and implement a Section 504 TransitionPlan.As a consequence of receiving high performance scores irregardless of whether thebuildings sites, elements and programs are, in reality, accessible and usable, PHAsare enabled to apply for and utilize their HUD Capital Fund allocations to fundmodifications and improvements without prioritizing the mitigation of physical andcommunications barriers that create and maintain substandard housing andinaccessible economic and integrative opportunities for residents with disabilitieswho do not have access to any other housing options or even acceptable temporaryshelters.For Americans with physical and sensory impairments, the terms "livability,""decent" and "safe" are fundamentally defined by the usability and accessibility ofstructural and communications components of units, buildings, sites, exteriors,common areas, public rights of way, etc.We strongly advise that HUD update its requirements related to the Physical NeedsAssessment, by standardizing and normalizing the definitions for "decent" and"safe" to meaningfully include "accessible and integrated" standards of use andliveability, without any further delay.Otherwise, we do not believe that HUD can expect to gain the respect and trust ofAmericans with disabilities, who are still living under the constant stress of lowestexpectations and highest barriers at every step and breath.HUD should proactively and affirmatively demonstrate a willingness to find andemploy qualified individuals with disabilities to lead this Agency in developing,demonstrating, and establishing meaningful systems that will result in substantiveand actionable measures of resident satisfaction, tenant participation, and theefficacy of resident self-sufficiency programs at all PHA-managed resources .Thank you. COMMUNITY ACCESS PROJECT, SOMERVILLE, MA. 4/25/11. PAGE 3 OF 4
  • 4. Docket No. FR-5094-I-02 Public Housing Evaluation and Oversight: Changes to the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Determining and Remedying Substantial DefaultEileen Feldman, Project DirectorCommunity Access ProjectCAPSom "at" verizon "dot" comCommunity Access Project, c/o FeldmanP.O. Box 434Somerville, MA 02143 COMMUNITY ACCESS PROJECT, SOMERVILLE, MA. 4/25/11. PAGE 4 OF 4

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