We've been hearing about New York's practice of limiting I/DD housing units to 25% or less and how this practice has led to a number of I/DD housing projects to fail. If you have experienced this or something similar, we would like to hear from you.
We asked the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to point us to the state regulation that has this restriction.
OPWDD could not point us to any written guidance or state regulation. Instead, we received this response:
"We are reviewing the regulations and will be issuing guidance at some point in the near future. This topic is still under discussion so there is nothing to report at this time. Thanks for the outreach though! More to come."
Here is our response to OPWDD:
XXXX - I just want to note that limiting I/DD housing units to 25% or less in a regular apartment complex or any other type of housing development that has not received HUD's Section 811 funding or any capital from OPWDD violates the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. If you prohibit someone from living in an apartment building because there are too many units occupied by people with I/DD, this is a clear case of fair housing violation since you're discriminating against someone based on their disability. You would not think of prohibiting persons of color from living adjacent to each other or from occupying more than 25% of the units in a multifamily building. You cannot apply these restrictions to individuals with disabilities.
In March 2020, the federal court in the Central District of Illinois ruled that a local ordinance that prohibited group homes for individuals with disabilities from being within 600 feet of each other unlawfully discriminated against individuals on the basis of their disability. The court stated:
[T]he spacing rule treats group homes for up to five unrelated individuals with disabilities less favorably than it does a similarly situated living arrangement consisting of up to five unrelated non-disabled people. By maintaining the discriminatory spacing rule and enforcing it against the 2328 S. Noble group home, the City has denied housing and made it unavailable on the basis of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1)(B). The spacing rule renders certain housing “unavailable” to persons with disabilities that would otherwise be available. The 600-foot spacing rule on group homes for individuals with disabilities that does not apply on comparable housing for non-disabled individuals plainly imposes discriminatory “terms” and “conditions” on housing on the basis of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2).
Valencia v. City of Springfield, 2020 WL 1035229, pp. 6-7 (C.D. IL, March 3, 2020)
I am concerned that OPWDD has been pushing the 25% occupancy limit without any proper guidance or regulation. When many New Yorkers with I/DD are facing shortages in basic housing and service options and families and friends are pooling together their own resources to mitigate this issue, their efforts should be applauded and supported, not thwarted by some abstract bureaucratic barriers.
I would appreciate your response to my concerns. Happy to discuss further via Zoom.
Ashley Kim Weiss
Together for Choice