Deaf group living together in Tempe fears federal government could break them up

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by Crystal Cruz

azfamily.com

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 9 at 3:11 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A group of deaf people living in Tempe together fears the federal government will break them up.

“I love it here and feel so good being able to converse and socialize with other deaf people,” said Loretta Hamel, 96, through an interpreter.
 
Hamel appreciates what some take for granted, hearing and communicating with her neighbors.
 
Hamel described living a silent life in a noisy world, in her past living situations, as difficult.
 
“I have suffered badly living with hearing people for so much of my life.  Always being ignored by the residents and property managers,” said Hamel.
 
That's no longer the case here at Apache ASL Trails.

The building houses special needs people and was designed for deaf people.
 
Recently, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, has been making noise about their living arrangements, accusing management of violating the Fair Housing Act.
 
“They feel it’s intrusive. I get the sense HUD is almost coming in here saying they want to get rid of all these deaf people,” said tenant Bernie Horwitz, 72.
 
Management is accused of allowing too many people with the same disability to live together and not having enough diversity in the building.
 
The majority of people living at Apache ASL Trails are deaf, but 10 percent are not.
 
The tenants said this is the only place in Arizona that meet their needs.
 
“There was a recommendation that they wanted to get rid of all references to ASL and deaf culture. It's almost like they are treating us like sub-par humans or animals," said Horwitz.
 
The Arizona Department of Housing is caught in the middle.

The state distributes federal funds to Arizona cities.
 
“We disagree with HUD’s determination. Which means that we also disagree with Fair Housing as it relates to this project,” said Mike Trailor, director of Arizona Department of Housing.
 
A spokesperson with HUD told 3TV over the phone they could not comment on this active case.

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