Arizona is defying a federal order to eliminate apartments for deaf seniors at a housing complex built specifically -- for the deaf.
"I think it's about the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who attempted to negotiate the impasse. "There are a lot of stories of out-of-control regulators, but this just seems to be going to the extreme."
A 2005 federal study found that the U.S. had virtually no affordable housing for the deaf. So the federal government helped build Apache ASL Trails, a 75-unit apartment building in Tempe, Ariz., designed specifically for the deaf. Ninety-percent of the units are currently occupied by deaf and deaf-blind seniors.
But now, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development says Apache ASL Trails violates civil rights law -- because it shows a preference for the hearing-impaired.
A preference or priority based on a particular diagnosis or disability and excluding others with different disabilities is explicitly prohibited by HUD's Section 504 regulations," says a HUD memo about the project. "There is no legal authority contained in any of Apache Trails funding to permit such a priority or preference."
HUD is threatening to pull all federal housing aid to Arizona unless it limits the number of hearing-impaired residents to 18 people. The agency would not forcibly remove current residents, but wants many of their units to be blocked off to deaf residents in the future once they leave.
HUD provided the Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition and its developer $2.6 million in funds and tax credits to build the complex in 2008. It is now fully occupied, with 69 of the 74 rented to deaf and deaf-blind residents. They meet daily in a large events room to talk, watch television and play games. The room is largely silent but the residents are animated and busy talking in sign language.
"I've been living here for two and a half years," said 74-year-old Rose Marie Pryce. "I love the deaf environment. We have a great time together. I have lots of friends. (If forced to move) I would be devastated. I would cry. I want to stay here, we need this place." http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/21/feds-try-to-eliminate-housing-for-deaf-at-complex-built-for-hearing-impaired/
Has the whole world gone crazy?