Annapolis housing agency cited in '99


The Annapolis Housing Authority was cited in 1999 by federal authorities for failing to make all its units accessible to people with disabilities, a recently discovered report shows.

The report, issued Feb. 26, 1999, by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, had found 13 units in the Harbor House and Bowman Court complexes that were either partially or fully inaccessible. Problems included a policy that excluded seeing-eye dogs, lack of a telephone system to handle calls from the hearing impaired, and units that could not be entered by wheelchair.

The housing authority had promised HUD it would address "all such accommodations and modifications which are reasonable" within 90 days.

"To the best of my knowledge the housing authority has complied with most or all of the requirements to provide apartments for the handicapped," said Howard S. Pinskey, chairman of the housing board.

The 1999 report came to light after the Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a Freedom of Information Act request to HUD last month, after receiving a tip from someone inside the agency, according to the Associated Press.

The NAACP has been a frequent critic of the housing authority. In recent months, the civil rights group and tenants of the public housing complexes have complained of unsafe conditions.

"What this report really shows is that the housing authority has serious administrative shortcomings," says Carl O. Snowden, a NAACP spokesman.

Pinskey said that the 1999 report had not been covered up.

"We get thousands of pieces of paper from HUD a year. We don't publish 99 percent of the things we get," he said.

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