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Bill Passed in the State Assembly Establishes More Accessible Housing for the Disabled

The bill, in a current legislative package that passed in the Assembly, would benefit the disabled community in New York State.
Dr. Joan O. Dawson Plaza in
Dr. Joan O. Dawson Plaza (Harlem affordable housing complex) in July 2021.

The New York State Assembly approved a bill on May 4 that will create a tax credit and establish more accessible housing for the disabled. The bill, A3409A, is now in the State Senate Budget and Revenue Committee awaiting final passage.

Local disability organizations and advocates have expressed support for the bill, although they say more could be done.

Scott Karolidis, director of governmental affairs at YAI, a service provider for the the intellectual and/or developmental disabled, said that the greatest barrier with housing for people with disabilities is the overall lack of affordable housing available.

"We would like to see this legislation pass, but housing is not simply an access issue," Karolidis said. "The affordable housing must exist for people to access it."

Prior versions of the bill have not successfully become law, with Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoing the bill twice in his second term and once in his third term.

This year, the bill is part of a legislative package the State is working on passing in observance of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day (declared on May 24 of last year).

The disabled community has protection from housing discrimination by law in New York City. These laws include Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) protect the disabled.

Brooklyn disability advocate Zach Borodkin, former advocate at Disability Rights New York, supports the bill. However, he thinks evaluations for the residences are necessary for safety and accessibility: "I think the tax credit should vary based on the level of visitability," he said.

Eman Rimawi-Doster, a Campaign Coordinator at New York Lawyers for Public Interest, says that NYC has mostly focused on housing being affordable more than accessible.

"This plan to retrofit buildings for accessibility is a great idea. I hope building owners take advantage of the tax incentives," said Rimanwi-Doster. "It’s the right thing to do."


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