Hundreds of DC residents with disabilities have been forced to wait up to more than 10 years for housing by the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA), according to DC Attorney General Karl Racine who sued the agency.
“This Complaint makes clear that DCHA has repeatedly failed to fulfill its legal responsibility to accommodate District residents who have physical disabilities with housing units that are safe and accessible,” Racine said in a release.
“After seeking to persuade DCHA to address these safety and quality of life issues, we had no choice but to file this case to ensure that the disabled tenants receive the accommodations that the law requires,” he continued.
In the lawsuit, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that DCHA has “systematically” failed to provide accessible housing to DC residents with disabilities in “an egregious pattern of discrimination” by forcing them to live for years in housing that does not meet their needs.
In one instance, a tenant, who was approved by DCHA for moving to a wheelchair-accessible apartment in early 2017, died in 2021, while she was still waiting for an accommodation, OAG says. She was living on the fourth floor of an apartment building without an elevator and needed assistance to go up and down the stairs.
Over 250 DCHA tenants have been waiting for accessible accommodations, some of them for more than four years, after they were approved for the program.
Some of the units offered by DCHA have been determined to be infested with cockroaches and rats. Refusing to move into uninhabitable accommodations sometimes leads to being dropped to the bottom of the waitlist.
DCHA is an independent DC government agency that owns and manages more than 8,300 public housing units. It provides homes for approximately 50,000 DC residents.