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HHA is committed to ensuring that its policies and procedures do not deny individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, nor otherwise discriminate against individuals with disabilities, on the basis of disability, in connection with the operations of HHA's programs, services, and activities. Therefore, if an individual with a disability requires an accommodation such as an accessible feature or modification to a HHA policy, HHA will provide such accommodation unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or an undue financial and administrative burden. In such a case, the HHA will make another accommodation that would not result in a financial or administrative burden.
A reasonable accommodation is a change, modification, alteration, or adaptation in policy, procedure, practice, program, or facility that provides a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a program (housing or no housing) or activity.
HHA will post a copy of this Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedures in the Central Administrative Offices at 75 East 6th Street, Hialeah, Florida 33010; in the offices of HHA's private management companies; and the management office in each public housing development. In addition, individuals may obtain a copy of this Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedures upon request from the HHA's Section 504 Coordinator.
The HHA is subject to Federal civil rights laws and regulations. This Reasonable Accommodation Policy is based on the following statutes or regulations. See Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504); Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)2; the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (Fair Housing Act); the Architectural Barriers Act of 19684, and the respective implementing regulations for each Act.
Monitoring and Enforcement
The HHA's Section 504 Coordinator is responsible for monitoring HHA's compliance with this Policy. Individuals who have questions regarding this Policy, its interpretation, or implementation should contact HHA's Section 504 Coordinator in writing, by telephone, or by appointment, as follows:
The Section 504 Coordinator will ensure that all appropriate HHA staff receives annual training on the Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Procedures, including all applicable Federal, state, and local requirements regarding reasonable accommodation.
A person with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application process, residency in public housing, or participation in the Housing Choice Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation Programs of HHA. Individuals may submit their reasonable accommodation request(s) in writing, orally, or by any other equally effective means of communication. However, the HHA will ensure that all reasonable accommodation requests will be reduced to writing. If needed as a reasonable accommodation, the HHA will assist the individual in completing the Request Form.
Reasonable accommodation methods or actions that may be appropriate for a particular program and individual may be found to be inappropriate for another program or individual. The decision to approve or deny a request for reasonable accommodation is made on a case-by-case basis and takes into consideration the disability and the needs of the individual as well as the nature of the program or activity in which the individual seeks to participate.
Application of Reasonable Accommodation Policy
The Reasonable Accommodation Policy applies to individuals with disabilities in the following programs provided by the HHA:
- Applicants of public housing;
- Residents of public housing developments;
- Participants of the Housing Choice Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation Programs; and
- Participants in all other programs or activities conducted or sponsored by the HHA as required by Federal law, its agents or contractors, including all non-housing facilities and common areas owned or operated by the HHA.
Person with A Disability
A person with a disability is an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. As used in this definition, the phrase "physical or mental impairment" includes:
- Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: Neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
- Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The term "physical or mental impairment" includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction, and alcoholism.
"Major life activities" means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and learning.
The definition of disability does not include any individual who is an alcoholic whose current use of alcohol prevents the individual from participating in the public housing program or activities; or whose participation, by reason of such current alcohol abuse, would constitute a direct threat to property or the safety of others.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
Examples of reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- Making a unit, part of a unit, or public and common use element accessible for the head of household or a household member with a disability who is on the lease;
- Permitting a family to have a service or assistance animal necessary to assist a family member with a disability;
- Allowing a live-in aid to reside in an appropriately sized HHA unit;
- Transferring a resident to a larger size unit to provide a separate bedroom for a person with a disability;
- Transferring a resident to a unit on a lower level or a unit that is completely on one level;
- Making documents available in large type, computer disc or Braille;
- Providing qualified sign language interpreters for applicant or resident meetings with HHA staff; or at resident meetings;
- Installing strobe type flashing lights and other such equipment for a family member with a hearing impairment;
- Permitting an outside agency or family member to assist a resident or an applicant in meeting screening criteria or meeting essential lease obligations;
- Permitting requests for extensions of Housing Choice Vouchers if there is a difficulty in locating a unit with suitable accessible features or otherwise appropriate for the family; and
- As a reasonable accommodation for a family member with a disability, approving a request for exception payment standard amounts under the Housing Choice Voucher Program in accordance with 24 C.F.R. §§ 8.28 and 982.504 (b)(2).
Processing of Reasonable Accommodation Requests
The HHA will provide the "Reasonable Accommodation Request", ("Request Form"), attached hereto, to all applicants, residents, or individuals with disabilities who request a reasonable accommodation.
Individuals may submit their reasonable accommodation request(s) in writing, orally, or by any other equally effective means of communication. However, the HHA will ensure that all reasonable accommodation requests will be reduced to writing. If needed as a reasonable accommodation, the HHA will assist the individual in completing the Request Form.
- The HHA will provide all applicants with the Request Form as an attachment to the HHA application. The Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form must be provided in an alternative format, upon request.
- Reasonable Accommodations will be made for applicants during the application process. All applications must be taken in an accessible location. Applications will be made available in accessible formats. HHA will provide applicants with appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters and readers, upon request.
- HHA will provide all residents with the Notice of Right to Reasonable Accommodation during the annual re-certification, and upon request. The HHA will provide the Notice of Right to Reasonable Accommodation in an alternate form, upon request.
- Residents seeking accommodation(s) may contact the housing management office, including the office of private management companies acting on behalf of HHA, within their housing development or the regional management office. In addition, residents may also contact the Section 504 Coordinator's office directly to request the accommodation(s).
- Within seven (7) business days of receipt, the housing management office will forward the resident's reasonable accommodation request(s) to the Office of the Section 504 Coordinator.
- Within twenty (20) business days or receipt, the Office of the Section 504 Coordinator, or the resident's regional or management office will respond to the resident's Request.
- If additional information or documentation is required, the Section 504 Coordinator's office will notify the resident, in writing, of the need for the additional information or documentation. The Section 504 Coordinator's Office will provide the resident with the "Request for Information or Verification Form" ["Request for Information"], a copy of which is attached. The written notification should provide the resident with a reply date for submission of the outstanding information or documentation.
- Within thirty (30) business days of receipt of the request and, if necessary, all supporting documentation, HHA will provide written notification to the resident of its decision to approve or deny the resident's request(s). Upon request, the written notification will be provided in an alternate format. Copy of the "Letter Denying Request for Reasonable Accommodation(s) and "Letter Approving Request for Reasonable Accommodation(s)" are attached.
- If HHA approves the accommodation request(s), the resident will be notified of the projected date for implementation.
- If the accommodation is denied, the resident will be notified of the reasons for denial. In addition, the notification of the denial will also provide the resident with information regarding HHA's Grievance Procedures.
- All recommendations that have been approved by the 504 Coordinator will be forwarded to the appropriate regional housing manager for implementation. All requests for reasonable accommodation that are approved by the regional housing manager will promptly be implemented or begin the process of implementation.
Verification of Reasonable Accommodation Request
HHA may request documentation of the need for a Reasonable Accommodation as identified on the Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form. In addition, HHA may request that the individual provide suggested reasonable accommodations.
The HHA may verify a person's disability only to the extent necessary to ensure that individuals who have requested a reasonable accommodation have a disability-based need for the requested accommodation.
However, the HHA may not require individuals to disclose confidential medical records in order to verify a disability. In addition, the HHA may not require specific details regarding the individual's disability. The HHA may only request documentation to confirm the disability-related need(s) for the requested reasonable accommodation(s). The HHA may not require the individual to disclose the specific disability(ies); or the nature or extent of the individual's disability(ies).
The following may provide verification of a resident's disability and the need for the requested accommodation(s):
- Licensed health professional;
- Professional representing a social service agency; or
- Disability agency or clinic.
Upon receipt, the resident's Property Manager, including private management companies operating on behalf of HHA, will forward the recommendation, including all supporting documentation, to the HHA's Section 504 Coordinator within seven (7) days of receipt.
Denial of Reasonable Accommodation Request(s)
Requested accommodations will not be approved if one of the following would occur as a result:
- A violation of State and/or federal law;
- A fundamental alteration in the nature of the HHA public housing program;
- An undue financial and administrative burden on HHA;
- A structurally infeasible alteration; or (e) An alteration requiring the removal or alteration of a load-bearing structural member.
Transfer as Reasonable Accommodation
HHA shall not require a resident with a disability to accept a transfer in lieu of providing a reasonable accommodation. However, if a public housing resident with a disability requests dwelling unit modifications that involve structural changes, including, but not limited to, widening entrances, rooms, or hallways, and there is a vacant, comparable, appropriately sized.
UFAS-compliant unit in that resident's project or an adjacent project, HHA may offer to transfer the resident to the vacant unit in his/her project or adjacent project in lieu of providing structural modifications. However, if that resident rejects the proffered transfer or voucher, HHA shall make modifications to the resident's unit unless doing so would be structurally impracticable or would result in an undue financial and administrative burden.
If the resident accepts the transfer, HHA will work with the resident to obtain moving expenses from social service agencies or other similar sources. If that effort to obtain moving expenses is unsuccessful within thirty (30) days of the assignment of the dwelling unit, HHA shall pay the reasonable moving expenses, including utilities fees and deposits. Nothing contained in this paragraph is intended to modify the terms of HHA's Tenant and Assignment Plan and any resident's rights thereunder.
Housing Choice Voucher as Reasonable Accommodation
- When issuing a voucher as an accommodation, HHA must include a list of current available accessible units known to HHA, upon request. HHA will also provide search assistance. HHA may also partner with a qualified, local disability organization to assist the resident or applicant with the search for available, accessible housing. See 24 C.F.R. § 8.28.
- Extensions beyond the maximum term of one hundred twenty (120) days are available as a reasonable accommodation to eligible individuals with disabilities. These extensions are subject to documentation that a diligent effort to locate a unit has been conducted, considering any impediments to searching because of a family member's disability.
- HHA may, if necessary, as a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability, approve a family's request for an exception payment standard amount under the Housing Choice Voucher Program so that the program is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. See 24 C.F.R. §§ 8.28 and 982.504(b)(2).
- Upon request by an applicant, participant, or their representative, HHA will ask the HUD Field Office for an exception payment standard of up to 120% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). However, the applicant, participant, or the representative, must provide documentation of the need for the exception payment standard to HHA.
- In exceptional cases, HHA may ask the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing of HUD for an exception payment standard amount over 120% of the FMR, provided the applicant, participant, or the representative provides the appropriate supporting documentation.
Service or Assistance Animals
Residents of HHA with disabilities are permitted to have assistance animals if such animals are necessary as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities. HHA residents or potential residents who need an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation must request the accommodation in accordance with the reasonable accommodation policy. Assistance animals are not subject to the requirements of HHA's Pet Policy.
Right to Appeal/Grievance Process
- The public housing applicant or resident may file a complaint in accordance with the HHA Grievance Procedure following a determination by the HHA's 504 Coordinator.
- The Housing Choice Voucher participant and applicant complainant may file a complaint in accordance with the HHA Grievance Procedure following a determination by the HHA's 504 Coordinator.
- An applicant or resident may, at any time, exercise their right to appeal a HHA decision through the local HUD office or the U.S. Department of Justice. Individuals may contact the local HUD office at:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
909 SE First Avenue, Suite 500
Miami, Florida 33131