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Victory in Arizona for the Disability Community

After two years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday it has dropped its investigation into Apache ASL Trails, an award-winning residential community for the deaf. HUD had previously argued that the residential community violated civil rights law by showing a preference for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Apache ASL Trails is a 75 unit apartment complex in Tempe, Arizona designed by a deaf architect and built with many features to ensure accessibility for all people with disabilities, especially the deaf and hard of hearing. The community was an immediate success, even winning the prestigious Charles Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award for Accessible Design. But days later, HUD issued a Letter of Findings saying that too many deaf people lived at Apache ASL Trails and threatened to pull all federal housing aid to Arizona unless it limited the number of hearing-impaired residents to 18 people.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) submitted a letter with sign-ons from 75 other deaf organizations to HUD in April 2013 demanding that HUD respect the wishes of deaf and hard of hearing people to live where they want including at accessible housing such as Apache ASL Trails.

The announcement by HUD last week that it has withdrawn its Letter of Findings and closed the investigation marks a big victory for Apache ASL Trails and the disability community as a whole.

Click here for resources related to housing and residential supports from Autism Speaks, including a searchable database of local services as well as a tool kit to assist individuals and families as they identify and secure appropriate residential supports and services.