Last week the DOJ intervened in a case alleging that federally funded housing developments in Los Angeles were falsely certifying compliance with federal accessibility laws in connection with claims submitted to HUD for millions of dollars in housing grants.
According to the DOJ:
[T]hese laws require that five percent of all units in certain federally-assisted multifamily housing be accessible for people with mobility impairments, and an additional two percent be accessible for people with visual and auditory impairments. They also require that the City and the CRA/LA maintain a publicly available list of accessible units and their accessibility features. Likewise, they require that the City and the CRA/LA have a monitoring program in place to ensure people with disabilities are not excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in, federally-assisted housing programs and activities solely on the basis of a disability.
In a nutshell, developers are accused of taking grants from the government, in part, to develop housing for the disabled. The developers then certify that they built the accessible housing, when in fact they never did and just pocketed the money.
Unless Los Angeles is an outlier, it’s possible this misuse of federal housing funds earmarked for the disabled is pervasive. It’s easy to imagine other unscrupulous developers in New York or Chicago, for instance, cutting corners at the expense of the disabled to gin up a little extra profit at the taxpayers’ expense.
The referenced case is United States ex rel. Ling, et al., v. City of Los Angeles, et al., No. CV 11-00974. The Notice of Intervention can be viewed here.