WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2014--Today the Equal Rights Center (ERC)--a national non-profit civil rights organization--released a new toolkit to help veterans with disabilities advocate for accessible housing.
"Every year, hundreds of thousands of veterans return home to new challenges and barriers due to physical and mental disabilities resulting from their service to and for our country," said Melvina Ford, executive director of the ERC. "Under the federal Fair Housing Act, these veterans are entitled to accessible housing and beyond that our gratitude and respect."
According to government sources, 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for service-related disabilities, more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War.
The lack of available accessible housing for these veterans with disabilities contributes to higher rates of unemployment and homelessness. Approximately 12 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans, which in real numbers amounts to almost 50,000 homeless veterans on our streets.
"Our veterans--particularly those who return home with service-related disabilities--deserve equal treatment and opportunity in all aspects of their new lives," said James Schenck, president and CEO of Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed). "It is imperative that we ensure that veterans with disabilities have the resources and education to be effective advocates for themselves and their families."
The Veterans with Disabilities Toolkit highlights the rights to accessible housing afforded to veterans with disabilities under Title XIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This toolkit provides: an overview of the rights provided by the federal FHA, information on accessible design requirements of multifamily development, how to request a reasonable modification or accommodation from property owners or managers and answers to frequently asked questions.