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Massachusetts CDBG Five-Year Plan Comments FELDMAN


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Massachusetts CDBG Five-Year Plan Comments FELDMAN
The State has published its draft of a five-year Comprehensive Plan to use HUD funds, over 52 million dollars, for 2010-2014. (Actually the beginning of the program year began in Fall, 2009).
This disAbility advocate is reminding the State's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to administer, program and implement these funds so that they are inclusive of individuals and families with disAbilities across the State.

The essential question is: Are these programs allowing individuals living with disAbilities equitable opportunities to participate in any role they are qualified for, and wish to engage in?

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Massachusetts CDBG Five-Year Plan Comments FELDMAN

  1. 1. Citizen Comments DHCD 2010-14 ConPlan Draft April 27, 2010 Thank you for this amazing compilation of hard work! Congratulations on the investment into examination of the fair housing needs, geographic opportunity mapping and civil rights studies to understand and respond to the on-the-ground needs of residents DHCD designates as "minorities" 1 Still, it is noted with grave concern that Massachusetts residents with disabilities remain an Invisibilized Minority. We are still struggling to overcome discrimination-based limits to our housing options, quality education, equal economic opportunities and asset development policies and resources. We are minorities in every sense of the word; we are: • pervasively excluded and neglected, even within racial, ethnic, age and gender-related minorities and civil rights studies and policy-making; • living mainly within low-opportunity communities, dealing with society's persistently low expectations, and struggling around the clock to enrich the e-quality of our communities and families; • exploited as a free source of labor to provide information, resources, audits and analysis of accessibility, communications and policy impediments; YET, still not afforded representational seating (where that is affirmatively embraced), on state-funded asset development, workforce development, housing-plus-employment development, economic empowerment, and civil rights leadership opportunities. • Most importantly, we lack access to justice, because we are continually steered to use a complaint-driven process to gain access and opportunity. This allows entities to ignore normative opportunities to expand universal access until a "qualified person with a disability" requests "reasonable accommodations." DHCD sincerely worked to integrate the expert guidance of volunteer experts with disAbilities, who sought to integrate normative civil rights understandings into affirmative policy-making. Yet, because there is little progressive movement towards overcoming the "economic burden" framework of our deferred civil rights, this Con Plan still reads like cheesecloth to disAbility rights advocates. In the following 5 pages are noted 4 red flags, and 4 recommendation sets are offered. With gratitude to the Fair Housing Advisory Panel, the Systems Transformation Grant group and all DHCD leaders, researchers, writers and other staff, Sincerely, Eileen Feldman Director Community Access & Inclusion Project Somerville, MA 1 ConPlan draft, p. 38, footnote 21: " The term minority encompasses all racial and ethnic categories except white, non-Hispanic; non-minority refers to only white non-Hispanics. The terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably. Hispanic persons may be of any race. Unless otherwise indicated, white, black, and Asian refer to non Hispanic members of those races. " Community Access & Inclusion Project/Feldman April 27, 2010 page 1 of 4
  2. 2. Citizen Comments DHCD 2010-14 ConPlan Draft IMPLEMENTING INTEGRATION WITHOUT DELAY= ELIMINATING POVERTY AT THE ROOT. SOME RED FLAGS 1. "Special Needs Populations" and Elderly-restricted programs continues to be the overriding proxy for discussion and action around implementation of the stated aspiration to increase and expand "accessible, integrated, affordable housing." 2. The Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing and the Housing Market Analysis does not explore the worst-case housing needs, poverty concentrations, lack of mobility, and reasons and appropriateness of the segregated-type housing options and policies for nonelderly adults with one or more types of disabilities across MA. The AI data collection does not include individuals who are currently inappropriately and unstably housing in continuing care facilities. 3. The bibliographies, affirmative Fair Housing programs, and civil rights discussions show a selective lack of up-to-date review of the significantly high housing and economic disparities for people that have disabilities. Please invest time and discussion to an up-to-date review of key knowledge-data products such as: Kathryn P. Nelson's (2009) The Hidden Housing Crisis: Worst Case Housing Needs Among Adults With Disabilities. Shawn Fremstad's (September 2009). Half in Ten: Why Taking Disability into Account is Essential to Reducing Income Poverty and Expanding Economic Inclusion 4. DHCD's Action Steps should include Section 504/ADA Self-Evaluations and Transition Plans for all DHCD-operated programs. Community Access & Inclusion Project/Feldman April 27, 2010 page 2 of 4
  3. 3. Citizen Comments DHCD 2010-14 ConPlan Draft SOME IDEAS 1. Please satisfy, without delay, feasible minimal standards of accessibility and ADA compliance. for example,: • Conduct a Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) accessibility audit statewide. Noted that the SHI have not yet been audited in fulfillment of the requirements of Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2006. A baseline auditing of accessibility (including communications) features and elements should be a priority investment. Can CDBG funds be applied towards this, in nonentitlement communities, PY10/11? - This will include performing an audit of subsidized housing inventory newly constructed since 1991, and substantially rehabbed with Federal dollars since 1988 (with the possible exception of group homes- some 11,000 units- for now). - At least the exterior and interior common areas, entrances, accessible routes, and other non-personal areas can be audited without delay; and, a timeline plan be created whereby, when units become vacant, they are evaluated and retrofitted before turning over. - Using the applicable UFAS, 521 CMR, Fair Housing Accessibility Design Guidelines, and Fair Housing Safe harbor standards that were applied at the time of construction, please create a Transition Plan to ensure that all available architectural and communications accessible units are corrected for deficiencies in a timely and reasonable manner. There should be no more "you pass" or a "grandfathering." - Of special interest are the thousands of units that were developed since 2000 with a financing package that included tax credits in tandem with Federal dollars. The IRS/DOJ/HUD MOU of 2000 should be especially noted. - • Please design an Accessibility, Communications, Program and Policies Evaluation Process for state-funded public housing projects. An indication of the necessity to evaluate State PHAs is found on p. 83 of Data Analysis section of the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AI); it says, : "Although physically disabled households were most likely to be integrated in housing with non- disabled households in HUD multifamily housing, units for the physically disabled were most likely to be concentrated by community: approximately 36.4% of HUD units for the physically disabled were in Roxbury, followed by Worcester (approximately 13.6%) and Boston (approximately 11.3%). " Since that's 61% of the "units for the physically disabled" it seems a clear sign that accessibility is not provided in common areas as well as the proportionate units (5% architecturally accessible/2% sensory-accessible, in a variety of unit types, and scattered throughout the sites) in the majority of HUD multifamily projects across Massachusetts. o Please show strong and unambivalent leadership by Notice- refreshing PHAs on the funding sanctions that DHCD will impose if they are found to not be adhering to Section 504, the Fair Housing Act, and the identification and mitigation of impediments to Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Community Access & Inclusion Project/Feldman April 27, 2010 page 3 of 4
  4. 4. Citizen Comments DHCD 2010-14 ConPlan Draft 2. Please standardize the inclusion of accessibility analysis, Transition Planning, and Universal Design into all DHCD-relevant programs and review. Leverage funding opportunities to integrate accessibility as a first-tier eligibility requirement. Leverage all funding opportunities to remind all participants that accessibility and inclusion issues should be fully integrated into principles of successful risk-management and program-building. For example: • Municipal Housing Production Plans (EO 418, 760 CMR 56.00) should include, at minimum, a discussion of housing needs of the community that is founded upon an accessibility audit and final report of current units, sites, streetscape impediments and public amenities clustering. Also, with regards to HPPs, since Census data severely undercounts people with disAbilities, please resource independent on-the-ground sources to fill in major data gaps when identifying municipality demographics, impediments to fair housing, and civil rights populations. • All Chapter 40 regulations need to be reviewed and re-issued with the explicit and accurate inclusion of the minimal design and code standards and thresholds for Section 504, 521 CMR, ADAAG, and Fair Housing Safe harbor design and construction standards. • Local and State AIs must ensure a minimal review of the poverty concentration of residents with disAbilities, in addition to racial and ethnic analysis. • Section 504 review is applicable for all Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) developments retroactive to October 2006. 3. Model, for the nation, the cost- effectiveness of including construction and rehabilitation costing models that set-aside a reasonable budget for accessibility costs. • Work with the Access & Opportunities Office to leverage small business opportunities with highest standards of culturally-competent accessibility audits, transition plan development, and inclusive design planning. • Disability-owned small businesses should be encouraged to grow and prosper. Of especial note is the need to engage, within the Commonwealth's design-build culture, the necessary accessibility considerations from the beginning: from site acquisition and pre-design stages to the completion of construction and administering of programs. 4. Issue guidance regarding accessible LEP standards. • Please examine the services DHCD provides and develop and implement a system by which LEP persons can meaningfully access those services consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency.There's a great set of resources at • LEP standards must include Braille, ASL, and Vlog as translation resources also. 5. Eliminate all intentional and nonintentionally segregated programs, policies and procedures, using the paid input of disability leadership. Begin by a thorough review of all policies and procedures and programs that leverage even one penny of HUD funding. Step up the "Commonwealth as Model Employer" program by employing experts with disAbilities to apply their leadership knowledge and skills at DHCD. Community Access & Inclusion Project/Feldman April 27, 2010 page 4 of 4