Feds try to eliminate housing for the deaf -- at complex built for hearing-impaired

In 2005 the federal government conducted a study and found that the US had virtually no affordable housing options specifically for those Americans who are deaf/hearing-impaired. That was when they helped build a complex called Apache ASL Trails, which is a seventy-five unit apartment complex located in Tempe, Arizona. It's designed specifically for those seniors that are deaf and is currently 90% filled with those that fit the original intent for the project. The units are set up to help those with disabilities, including enough space for wheelchairs, blinking lights to signal various actions around the apartment that would normally be deal with through hearing, and phones that allow the tenants to use video to chat with friends.

Though HUD originally was on board with the project, they have recently changed their tune, stating that the complex excludes people and therefore breaks with their housing regulations. HUD is threatening to pull all of Arizona's federal housing aid if they do not comply with their new demands. They want to limit the number of hearing-impaired tenants to 18.

Michael Trailor, the state housing director, is fighting back, but it hasn't been an easy fight. He characterizes the HUD attorneys that he has been dealing with as "ignorant and arrogant and much worse, they are powerful." The Arizona taxpayers and the apartment's developer have spent $500,000 fighting the federal organization. Two years of negotiation later, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is asking for patience, telling Trailor that it should all be cleared up within a few weeks. That was five months ago and it continues to weigh heavily on the tenants of the complex.

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POSTED October 29 2013 9:50 AM

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