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Federal government joins lawsuit against Los Angeles over housing for disabled

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The U.S. says the city isn’t using federal money to develop accessible, affordable housing

The U.S. Department of Justice is joining a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over the accessibility of affordable housing, the Los Angeles Times reports. The lawsuit alleges the city has failed to develop enough affordable housing that’s accessible to people with disabilities.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said in a statement that the city was denying disabled people equal access to housing, “while falsely certifying the availability of such housing to keep the dollars flowing.”

The lawsuit states that Los Angeles received at least $933 million in federal housing funds over a six-year period, the Times reports.

The suit was filed in 2011 by Mei Ling, a wheelchair user who, for three years, lived in homeless shelters and transitional housing, because she could not secure an accessible apartment at “any private development that receives assistance from the city and/or federal government,” the lawsuit says.

Ling eventually moved into an apartment for seniors in North Hollywood, but even there, the suit says, “she is unable to use the shower or toilet in her unit, and cannot access reliable, affordable public transportation to and from her building.”

Last year, in a major victory for accessibility advocates, the city settled a 2012 lawsuit and agreed to spend $200 million over the next 10 years to make federally funded affordable housing developments adequately accessible to people with disabilities. At the time, the lawyer for the plaintiffs called the settlement the largest of its kind in U.S. history.