Filed: October 9, 2019
Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Overview: The Arc filed an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs’ appeal of the district court’s dismissal on ripeness grounds. The case, filed in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas in 2018, challenges the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas’s (DHA) refusal to use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Project-Based Voucher (PBV) rent subsidy program to provide otherwise scarce affordable, independent housing opportunities for people with I/DD in the community. DHA was poised to offer such PBVs—each of which would permit a single-family house to be rented at subsidized rates to several people with I/DD who can live independently with appropriate supports—but then canceled its offering and has refused to offer any substitute, without any good reason. The lawsuit alleges that DHA’s actions violate the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and state law. The district court dismissed the case in April 2019 and Plaintiffs appealed to the Fifth Circuit. The amicus brief supports Plaintiffs’ request to reverse the district court’s dismissal order and let the case move forward and explains that DHA’s ongoing failure to provide access to its program (including through reasonable accommodations where necessary) deprives adults with I/DD of a critical opportunity to live in the most integrated setting appropriate in the community and creates an acute risk of homelessness and institutionalization.
Excerpt: “Title II of the ADA requires public entities to administer programs in the ‘most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities,’ and Olmstead is noteworthy for its broad recognition of the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive needed services and supports in the community—as opposed to institutional settings—which has become known as the ‘integration mandate’ of the ADA. But this mandate—which also protects those who are “at risk” of institutionalization—cannot be fully realized without affordable housing opportunities in the community that are accessible to people with I/DD and enable them to live outside their family homes. For many adults with I/DD currently living in their family homes, opportunities that allow them to live in the community separate from their families are often preferable because these opportunities provide greater independence and autonomy. Additionally, living in the community separate from their families can be critical for adults with I/DD to avoid homelessness or institutionalization when a supporting family member inevitably ages and reaches a point where she or he can no longer provide shelter or support.”
Status: Plaintiffs’ appeal is pending.