the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Responds to National Apartment Association Concerns over ADA ‘Notification’

For Immediate Release

April 5, 2016

NCIL is stunned by a recent misleading press release from the National Apartment Association (NAA). The NAA talks about their efforts to promote housing and jobs. Yet one of their lobbying points has nothing to do with providing housing and jobs – in fact, it would eliminate housing options for many Americans.

The NAA stated that during their Lobby Day on March 9, they identified to legislators the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act as barriers to their industry’s efforts to provide housing and jobs. They asked legislators to “support legislation that provides a business owner with the opportunity to cure an alleged ADA deficiency prior to the initiation of a lawsuit.”

This is a rather stunning position to take, considering that the Americans with Disabilities Act largely does not impact housing, other than leasing offices and other places of public accommodations. There, the requirements are relatively simple.

People with disabilities often have accessibility needs that only multi-family units meeting the design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act can meet. That is why people with disabilities have been very supportive of efforts of the apartment industry to build more multi-family housing. We know, and the National Apartment Association surely does, too, that the biggest barriers to housing construction isn’t the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the attitudes in many communities leading to NIMBYism – the “Not In My Back Yard” mindset. Yet this is curiously absent from the NAA’s policy priorities.

Instead, the NAA begs for relief from a law that has little to do with housing. They support a bill that, in its current form, would actually criminalize the process of making a complaint if not done exactly right. Clearly they have hopes of expanding this bill to include Fair Housing.

Why? The Americans with Disabilities Act is over 25 years old. The Fair Housing Act as amended to include disability is 28 years old. We know from history that those two are hardly barriers to economic activities such as housing construction. Why, then, would the NAA support an ADA notification bill, with obvious hopes of expanding it to include Fair Housing accessibility complaints?

Clearly, then, the NAA seeks to shield its members who are not in compliance by weakening the law. But to do so would deny one in five Americans’ right to equal access to housing and businesses. This effort is a slap in the face to people with disabilities who have supported the apartment industry, who are some of the apartment industry’s best tenants, and who have every right to expect that, more than two and a half decades after the passage of accessibility and anti-disability discrimination laws, there will be equal access.

The National Council on Independent Living is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the U.S., its Territories, and abroad.