The Dark Side of HUD

By Thomas J. Posedly,

Board Chairman of Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition (ADSCC)

PHOENIX, ARIZONA-April 25, 2013

Thomas is an highly awarded architect and he is seventy-two years old. He was born Deaf. He never heard a sound all his life. Deaf Community uses capital letter "D" and it considers itself an ethnic minority, a linguistic minority and a culture because it uses American Sign Language (ASL).

 

U.S. Government's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a dark side. Three HUD employees of Maricopa County's HUD office located in downtown Phoenix signed a June 8, 2012 letter to Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) that is discriminatory to Deaf Community. An email copy was leaked to me after my trip to Washington DC.

 

Last June 21, 2012 in D.C., we received a national award for building Apache ASL Trails (AAT) in Tempe, AZ from the Tax Credit Affordable Housing Coalition in the U.S. Capitol meeting room, along with Mr. Michael Trailor, Director of Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) and Mr. Erich Schwenker, President of Cardinal Capital Management (CCM). Trailor gave an inspiring talk to the room full of 200 people. As a guest at AAT's Grand Opening, he felt really alone in a room full of people talking in a unfamiliar language called American Sign Language (ASL). Now he knows how a deaf person feels. He put his hand on his heart.

 

What an irony. One national group HUD bashes ADOH and one national group Tax Credit Affordable Housing awards ADOH, ADSCC and CCM.

 

HUD still is bullying Trailor for allowing Deaf-accessible AAT in Tempe, Arizona. AAT is one of seventeen similar Deaf-accessible housing complexes located all over the USA. AAT is just one Deaf-accessible housing out of over 100 existing hear-talk retirement housings in Tempe.

 

California has three Deaf-accessible houses and one in Fremont was targeted in 2005 by HUD employees who successfully made Fremont Oak Gardens 80% or more occupied by the hearing people, disabled or not, leaving only 20% or less for the Deaf.

 

Apache ASL Trails in Tempe, Arizona was opened to the public last July 11, 2011 and within next two months it was 100% full of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-blind tenants in seventy-five apartments with all built-in features that assist this group. It is hugely successful.

 

At AAT, everybody is very happy because the Deaf can communicate with other Deaf. Everybody talks with each other. They laugh. They cry. They share their experiences and stories. They say hello. They have fun. A wonderful place to spend the last years of your life.

 

 

Incredibly, this HUD's June 8th letter outlined seven points of "voluntary compliance agreement" to change AAT from a single disability group to a mutilple disability group limited to 25% of the total building space as follows:    

 

•    Preference cannot be used for all 75 apartments  

     except just one.    

•    All marketing materials should not mention "Deaf".   

•    Remove "ASL" from "Apache ASL Trails" name. ASL

     means American Sign Language, the first language

     for most of us.    

•    Increase Hispanic tenants to meet 28% of

     Maricopa County    

•    Replace Deaf manager with Hearing, Spanish

     speaking one.    

•    Place hall monitors to keep Deaf non-tenants out

     of building.    

•    Keep Deaf population at AAT down to five Deaf persons.

 

Two months after a January 17, 2013 meeting in Phoenix, an attorney for HUD Office of Fair Housing at San Francisco Region 9 HUD office re-affirmed that the Deaf shall not live with other Deaf and the Deaf must mix with people with other disabilities. That would be 25% of total apartments set aside for the people with disabilities.

 

This attorney does not understand that people with other disabilities are able to hear and talk. How could Deaf people who cannot hear and talk communicate with them? Impossible.

 

There are about ten double disabled Deaf people living in AAT. Deaf-Blind, Deaf-Celebral palsy, Deaf-Diabetic, Deaf-Stroke and so forth. Deafness is most dominant over other disabilities because of communication barrier. Deafness separates the Deaf from those who can talk and hear.

 

The sponsor organization with the Developer (CCM) of AAT is Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition, Inc. The mission is to build communication barrier free retirement housing and its motto is "Banish Extreme Loneliness". We use American Sign Language to stop loneliness and express ourselves well and receive information easily.

 

ADSCC members saw many Deaf tenants living alone in other retirement housing where the neighbors and the staff ignored them because it is too hard to communicate with them. You would need paper and pencil. Communication is non-existent in group entertainment and activities because housing staff won't provide sign language interpreters. AAT is a wonderful solution to all of this. And yet. . . .

 

HUD doesn't care about our freedom to choose or our pursuit of happiness as written in the U.S. Constitution. A dark side.