Valley deaf residents worry feds will evict them

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It's a one-of-kind award winning Valley community making a big difference in the lives of the disabled.

But now, some residents of the Apache ASL Trails senior living complex in Tempe are worried that the federal government will soon ask them to move out.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development claims that Apache ASL Trails is violating the Fair Housing Act by having too many deaf people in the same complex.

The complex is accused of discriminating against other disabled and non-disabled people by not giving them an equal shot to live there.

The unique 75-unit facility which opened last year has received national recognition as one of the country's best special-needs housing projects.

Each room is specially designed to help deaf residents.

Strobe lights and visual cues are built in everywhere, including door bells and fire alarms.

Property Manager Linda Russell told CBS5 that they don't discriminate against anyone, but now, a number of residents are worried the federal government will force them to move out.

"We would like to see the federal government recognize our rights of choice, where we have the right to choose where we want to live," said Russell. "It should not be the government's prerogative to dictate where deaf residents can and cannot live."

Russell said that about 90 percent of the units are rented out to someone who's deaf, but they have always welcomed non-disabled applicants.

Russell can't understand why the federal government would have a problem with a place  that's making the lives of the hearing impaired better.

"We need to allow them the opportunity to enjoy their golden years in peace and quietness and happiness," said Russell. 

A HUD official told CBS5 that none of the deaf residents are on the verge of eviction.

The problem stems from the way the senior living center was originally marketed, specifically to the deaf, said the government official.

According to federal guidelines, since about $2 million of taxpayer money was used to build the facility, the complex cannot create a segregated community even if it's for the disabled.

HUD is working with Arizona's Department of Housing to try and resolve the situation so the facility will be in compliance.

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