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Home > News > Happy 25th Anniversary Americans With Disabilities Act!

July 26, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In 1998 the federal Fair Housing Act was amended to include people with disabilities as a protected class.  In 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Olmstead opinion which directed public entities to provide community-based services (including housing) in the least restrictive environment

cakeAll three decisions demonstrate huge advances in the disability rights movement.  However, people with disabilities still face enormous challenges, especially when it comes to housing.  Discrimination based on disability make up the largest share of complaints received by federal and local agencies.[1] People with disabilities consistently rank in the top of households with “worst case housing needs”. [2]

We are fortunate to have local nonprofit organizations that are providing affordable, accessible, and integrated housing for people with disabilities.  One of those organizations, Easter Seals Central Texas, developed, owns, and manages 34 units of housing in three different condominium complexes in Central Austin.  Developed with a combination of federal and local funding, and SMART Housing certified, these units are fully accessible to people with disabilities.  Residents pay no more than 30% of their income toward rent.  All of the units are served by frequent public transportation.  Residents with disabilities are able to live in the community, affordably and independently.

A smaller, but just as committed organization is Accessible Housing Austin! AHA! was founded in 2005 by disability rights advocates and its goal is to integrate people with various disabilities into neighborhoods all over Austin. AHA! purchases homes and rents them to its clients at a rate that is commensurate with their income. There are also many organizations that make modifications to homes free of charge for low-income homeowners and renters when their homes are no longer accessible. This allows residents to continue to live in their homes safely. It is clear that on the 25th anniversary of the ADA, we have a lot to celebrate.

[1] Urban Institute

[2] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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