Little-known rule allows pets in federal housing
By Diane C. Lade
February 5, 2002
For four years, Velvel has been Harvey Schiller's roommate and possibly his best friend. He was there when Schiller was pulling his life together after a divorce and a stroke, the one who cheerfully nudged him outside when Schiller still was
using a cane and could barely walk.
"I took good care of Velvel and he took good care of me," said Schiller, 63.
But when he had to move about a year ago, he found no senior complexes would rent
to him and his little dog, a papillon with a tail like a firecracker's explosion
and a face like a fox. "I took a room in a trailer for a while. It wasn't even a
consideration, leaving Velvel behind," said Schiller.
Then he found a place where taking pets, like Velvel, wasn't just a policy. It's
Schiller now is living at the Levey Senior Residence in Sunrise, a 123-unit
federally subsidized apartment house for seniors and the disabled on limited
incomes. Dogs, cats, birds and even fish are free to live there, too -- as they
are in any residential building constructed with money from the federal
Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD rules, which are part of federal law, state that building owners or managers
"may not discriminate" against elderly and disabled tenants who have
pets. It's been the case since the mid-1980s.
And it may be one of the federal government's best-kept secrets -- just because
most people, accustomed to retirement living's "no pets allowed" mantra, can't
believe it's true.
"When I asked if they allowed dogs, I was so happy when they said yes," said
Schiller, a retired insurance agent.
Cherie Wachter, marketing director for the Humane Society of Broward County, sees
plenty of dogs and cats huddled in the shelter's cages because their owners had
to move from their homes and their animal companions could not come with them.
Most retirement complexes, not to mention assisted living centers and nursing
homes, don't allow pets.
"These usually aren't little kittens or puppies but mature pets that have been
doted on by someone who now has to leave them behind. It's extremely difficult
for these seniors," Wachter said.
Judy Bogos, who was working in a senior building when the pet policy was
instituted, remembers HUD making the move "because they realized the animals
served as companions to the seniors and kept them healthier," she said. She now
manages two HUD buildings in Boca Raton operated by the Jewish Federation of
South Palm Beach County and estimates about 8 percent of the seniors in her 204
apartments have pets.
(article cropped because this part says everything I wanted to share on the topic).