Resource Center


Reasonable Accommodation For People with Disabilities

An estimated 41% of federally subsidized households have a head, a spouse or a family member with a disability. Access to, and retention of, affordable housing by these families is especially critical because of the additional barriers they may face when searching for and residing in housing. Some of these barriers are physical, while others are barriers created by policies, rules, and regulations of the housing providers.

One way in which federal law seeks to ensure equal access to the full use and enjoyment of federally assisted housing for people with disabilities is through requirements that housing providers must provide reasonable accommodation to tenants with disabilities. In the housing context, a reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary to allow a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation may be construed as discrimination.

NHLP has developed and collected materials regarding reasonable accommodation, including an outline of the law, sample letters, trainings, and fact sheets.

Articles

Acceptance of Voucher May Be Required as a Reasonable Accommodation

This Housing Law Bulletin article discusses a case in which a federal court denied a motion to dismiss where tenant had a likelihood of success in arguing that landlord was obligated to accept her Section 8 voucher as a reasonable accommodation.

HUD’s New Guidance on Voucher Payment Standards for People with Disabilities

This Housing Law Bulletin article summarizes a HUD notice regarding the mechanics of requesting an increase in a payment standard for a Section 8 voucher as a reasonable accommodation.

HUD & DOJ Issue Statement on Reasonable Modifications

This Housing Law Bulletin article summarizes HUD and DOJ’s Joint Statement on Reasonable Modifications, which provides guidance on how housing providers should implement the obligation to make physical changes to a property, in order to make a unit accessible, under the Fair Housing Act.

Cases

Finley v. City of Santa Monica, Case No. BS127077 (Special Needs Trusts and Income Calculation)

The decision in this case interprets HUD regulations defining annual income for rent setting purposes. The issue was the treatment of distributions from a Special Needs Trust, the corpus of which was a lump sum payment received for a personal injury settlement. (HUD rules generally provide that certain lump sum payments are considered assets and not included in annual income.) The Court found that distributions from a SNT created from a lump sum personal injury settlement are not to be considered as annual income. This treatment is in line with SSI and Medicaid treatment of SNTs and helps people with disabilities maintain their federally-assisted housing at rents they can afford.

Materials

Reasonable Accommodation in Federally Assisted Housing Outline

This outline explains the basics of reasonable accommodation issues in federally assisted housing. It includes the following sections:
I. Overview: Laws and Definitions
II. How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation
III. Common Issues Arising in Federally Assisted Housing
IV. Failure to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation
V. Methods of Enforcement
VI. Affirmative Advocacy

Trainings

New Orleans Reasonable Accommodation:
The sample presentation concerns the basic rights of people with disabilities to reasonable accommodation in federally assisted housing.

LAAC Traveling Training Materials:
Power Point presentation from LAAC Traveling Training 2009. The training was held on November 17, 2009 and focuses on the right to reasonable accommodation in housing for persons with disabilities.

Exception Payment Standard Calculator

This excel spreadsheet, which was put together by John Carella of Bay Area Legal Aid, helps calculate what percentage of FMR a tenant should request as an exception to the payment standard as a reasonable accommodation.

Letters and Pleadings

This packet contains a variety of sample letters, pleadings, and documents that advocates have used to pursue reasonable accommodation requests.

Statutes and Regulations

HUD Documents

HUD has released a number of documents providing guidance on the reasonable accommodation process. They provide both a good source of information as well as persuasive authority when advocating to federally assisted housing providers.

1. Joint Statement of the Department Of Housing And Urban Development and the Department Of Justice Reasonable Accommodation under the Fair Housing Act

2. Joint Statement of the Department Of Housing And Urban Development and the Department Of Justice Reasonable Modifications under the Fair Housing Act

3. PIH Letter L-2007-05 Reinstatement of Notice PIH 2006-13 (HA) Nondiscrimination and Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities and PIH Notice 2006-13 (HA) Nondiscrimination and Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities

4. Notice PIH 2008-13 (HA) Requests for Exception Payment Standards for Persons with Disabilities as a Reasonable Accommodation

5. Notice PIH 2009-22 (HA) Over Subsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program

6. Eligibility of Students for Assisted Housing Under Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937; Conforming Amendment To Include Students With Disabilities Receiving Assistance as of November 30, 2005, 73 Fed. Reg. 49332 (Aug. 21, 2008)

Links

Administrative Guidance

2011
1. Guidance for FHEO Staff in Assisting Persons with Disabilities Transitioning from Institutions
2. Consideration of Extenuating Circumstances When Screening Applicants with Disabilities
3. OGC Memo re: Medical Marijuana
4. PIH Letter re: Medical Marijuana
5. Requests for Exception Payment Standards for Persons with Disabilities as a Reasonable Accommodation

2010
1. Non-Discrimination and Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities