Is this another sign of the ongoing turf war between the White House and California or just business as usual at the Department of Housing and Urban Development? There’s a bit of a face-off going on this week between HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. It involves $80 million in grant money that was slated for the City of a Million Rats, designated to be used for the development of affordable housing, but now the cash is being put on hold. The reason? Los Angeles has been repeatedly found in violation of rules requiring their housing projects to be fully accessible to residents with disabilities. (LA Times)
In an unwelcome turn for a city suffering from a homelessness crisis, federal housing officials said they have denied Los Angeles $80 million in funds, citing long-standing failures by local leaders to ensure that properties built with government money are accessible to those who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson informed Mayor Eric Garcetti in a letter Friday that his agency was rebuffing funding proposals submitted by city officials last month.
“As you have been notified time and again, the city is unlawfully discriminating against individuals with disabilities in its affordable housing program, under federal accessibility laws … and has refused to take the steps necessary to remedy this discrimination,” Carson wrote. He said a more detailed explanation for the rejection would be sent to the city within 15 days.
The requirements in question seem pretty basic. They’re talking about ramps and suitably wide elevators for people in wheelchairs and grab rails to assist in getting up and down. You also need to make sure that closets are wide enough to be accessed from a wheelchair and kitchen counters aren’t too high to reach. The repeated failure to pass inspections for such features in Los Angeles public housing is cited as the reason for denying the funds.
Some might see the evil hand of the Bad Orange Man in the background, looking to deprive the sanctuary city of more money, and it’s certainly possible that the Trump administration could see that as a side benefit. But the reality is that this dispute predates both Trump’s time as President and Garcetti’s time as Mayor. This fight has been going on since 2012 when the Obama administration went after Los Angeles for exactly the same reasons. And seven years later they are still failing inspections.
There’s more than a bit of irony in the idea that one of the most woke cities in the country is getting hammered for being insufficiently sensitive to the needs of the disabled. But this is no laughing matter. The City of Angels is being crushed by an epidemic of homeless people and toxic trash and human waste piling up in the streets. And a lot of the homeless are disabled themselves. If they’re going to get them under a roof, they will need to practice what they preach and ensure that the facilities are accessible to everyone, and not just those who are physically able.