Coalition Will Call on Alameda Housing Authority and Island City Development to End Discriminatory Practices
Contact: Itzel Romero, 510-422-5087
The Center for Independent Living
Date/Time: December 15th at 11:00 AM
Location: Will Start at Levy’s Bagels at 730 Atlantic Avenue, Alameda,
then move to Alameda County Housing Authority at 701 Atlantic Avenue
After securing an apartment at Rosefield Village, a newly redeveloped, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) property in Alameda, Jen Herrington felt like she had won the Bay Area housing golden ticket. Rosefield Village’s promotional materials stated that the property had 25 units for people with mobility disabilities, units that could be further modified to meet individual tenants’ needs. This was vitally important to Jen, as she would require an accessible shower to live safely and independently at Rosefield Village.
Jen would soon learn that the “accessible” apartments at Rosefield Village were in name only. Although modifiable, costs associated with the modification (in Jen’s case, estimated at $20,000) would fall squarely on Jen. This was extra money Jen did not have, as the apartment she qualified for was for people making 30% or less of the area median income (AMI).
None of these details were disclosed to Jen when she applied for the apartment. All she was told was that the “accessible” units at Rosefield Village could be modified to accommodate individual tenants’ needs.
Jen Herrington said, “I was told I would have to renovate the brand-new bathroom myself, while not being able to shower. They said that if the unit I qualified for was HUD-funded, they would accommodate me, but because it was a LIHTC unit, they would not.”
It turned out one unit at Rosefield Village, out of 92, would meet Jen’s needs without requiring further modification. It had the roll-in shower Jen needed. When Jen inquired about the unit with the roll-in shower, she was told she did not qualify for it because it was reserved for people 80% of the AMI. In other words, Jen, and other prospective senior and disabled tenants making between 20% and 60% of the AMI, would need to pay tens of thousands of dollars more than a higher income person for a basic accessibility feature.
“When I learned my name had come up for an apartment at Rosefield Village, I was overjoyed. I let myself imagine what it would be like to have a safe bathroom and access to the outdoors — to have sidewalks that allowed me to do my own shopping and to be able to participate in the community. I did not know I was on a path to discover a barrier to equal housing based on class and disability,” said Jen Herrington.
“We do not accept what happened to Jen Herrington at Rosefield Village, and we will not accept it happening to other prospective tenants of LIHTC properties in Alameda County,” said Jessica Lehman, Executive Director of Senior and Disability Action.
On Thursday, December 15th at 11 AM, a coalition of advocacy organizations and community members will gather at Levy’s Bagels at 730 Atlantic Avenue, and then move to Alameda Housing Authority, to demand the following:
- That Jen Herrington immediately be offered a unit at Rosefield Village that is accessible to her needs.
- That Rosefield Village provide and pay for modifications for all future tenants occupying its 25 “accessible” units.
- That Island City Development and the Alameda County Housing Authority give further clarity, guidance, and information about their 25 accessible, adaptable units for people with mobility disabilities, ensuring that these units are meaningfully accessible to disabled tenants.
- That Island City Development and the Alameda County Housing Authority ensure all its current and future LIHTC units are easily adaptable and undue cost burdens do not fall on disabled tenants.
“What we have learned through Jen Herrington’s experience is that qualifying for a LIHTC unit does not necessarily translate to living in a LIHTC unit. LIHTC properties put able-bodied people at a significant advantage and discriminate against disabled people who cannot cover the costs of necessary modifications,” said Itzel Romero, Systems Change Advocate at The Center for Independent Living.
Speakers with different disabilities will be available to speak with press at the event.
CIL Berkeley is the first independent living center in the country and one of the founders of the Disability Rights and Independent Living movements. We believe people with disabilities have the right to live in communities they choose, with any supports needed for safety, accessibility, and dignity. We provide advocacy and direct services like information and referrals, residential access, assistive technology, travel training, youth leadership, housing assistance and more.
Senior and Disability Action is a community organization of over 200 seniors and disabled people in the Bay Area. We work for rights and justice for seniors and people with disabilities, especially people of color and poor people. We fight together for affordable housing, quality health care and home care, mental health services, transit justice, and respect for all people.