According to a report on FOX News, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed a lawsuit against a residential complex in Arizona that was built specifically to house the hearing impaired claiming that the complex discriminates against non-hearing impaired people.
As if that isn’t crazy enough, HUD originally helped fund the project after a federal study performed in 2005 found a great need for affordable housing for the hearing-impaired in the United States. The complex, called Apache ASL Trails, is at full capacity and has a waiting list. ASL stands for American Sign Language.
Opposition to the lawsuit is widespread and bi-partisan:
“I think it’s about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who attempted to negotiate the impasse. “There are a lot of stories of out-of-control regulators, but this just seems to be going to the extreme.”
And Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat whose congressional district includes the housing complex says,
“What I know is the reality of my constituents who live at Apache ASL Trails. They love their community. They want to stay there. They’re grateful to have a community that welcomes them and their various ability levels.”
The Arizona Republic has reported that the 75-unit complex was built with about $2.6 million in HUD grant and stimulus funding. It was developed by the Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition and Cardinal Capital Management. According to AZCentral.com:
“Records show that HUD was aware of the project’s purpose when it authorized grant funds in February 2008.”
Government officials in Arizona point out that the federal government has great discretion on how it interprets discrimination laws and that this lawsuit should have never been filed. AZCentral.com reports that the Arizona Department of Housing Director Michael Trailor says he wants HUD to “change its interpretation of its non-discrimination law, agree it approved funding for the project in 2008, and that the complex is not discriminating, as evidenced by the mix of disabled and non-disabled tenants.”
So far, the management company and the Arizona Housing Department have had to spend $450,000 in legal fees in defense of the lawsuit.
Obviously, discrimination is a bad thing. But what’s next? Will nursery schools be sued if they don’t accept senior citizens as students? It will be a travesty if any more taxpayer money is wasted on this lawsuit.