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Hull authority cleared in discrimination case

By Constance Lindner
Globe Correspondent / September 11, 2011

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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that the Hull Housing Authority did not violate federal law, despite the lack of handicapped-accessible public housing in the town’s 68 units.

In an Aug. 15 letter, HUD officials explained that the Department of Housing and Community Development was awarded federal aid for projects in Hull, but none passed through the coffers of the town’s housing authority.

The statute in question was Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The law prohibits discrimination by any program that received federal assistance, but Hull’s housing was built before the disabilities act was enacted 20 years ago.

Hull resident Joan Humphreys’ April 2009 request for housing for her husband, who uses a wheelchair, and she also initiated a civil rights complaint via the town’s Commission on Disability.

The US Department of Justice led a 2 1/2-year consideration of the civil rights complaint by several governmental offices before HUD’s finding last month.

“They’re saying that because no federal funds were used for recent work, it doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction, and though that’s their ruling, it doesn’t make it right,’’ said Hull Town Manager Phil Lemnios.

HUD officials could not be immediately reached for comment.