Federally funded housing is governed by federal laws.
I have applied for many public housing or privately owned federally subsidized housing complexes. I am disabled. My applications were for senior/disabled housing complexes.
I was sent a letter in January of 2015 from a federally funded housing complex owned and operated by the Diocese of Camden that they had an apartment for me. On my initial application it asked who would be residing in the apartment. I listed myself and my daughter. (She is not only my daughter, she helps me with many of my day to day functions).
I called the housing complex upon receipt of the letter to set up an appointment for my interview. The “leasing agent”, who is not apparently well versed in the Americans with Disabilities Act asked me if my daughter was disabled. No, she’s not, she is my caretaker.
According to the Fair Housing Act regarding tenants or occupants:
“it is usually unlawful for a housing provider to ask (1) if an applicant for a dwelling has a disability or if a person intending to reside in a dwelling or anyone associated with the applicant has a disability.”
According to the Fair Housing Act regarding reasonable requests:
“Requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a change in rules, policies, practices, or services so that a person with a disability will have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space. A housing provider should do everything s/he can to assist, but s/he is not required to make changes that would fundamentally alter the program or create an undue financial and administrative burden. Reasonable accommodations may be necessary at all stages of the housing process, including application, tenancy, or to prevent eviction.”
Having my daughter live with me as an occupant/caretaker would not fundamentally alter the program or create an undue financial or administrative burden.
On February 26th, 2015, I received a letter in the mail from HUD. It seems that the housing complex owned by the Diocese of Camden, discriminated against me regarding both of the above mentioned rules.
Later that day, I received a phone call from the Glassboro Housing Authority (this is where I really want to live), that they have an apartment available for me. I called the lady back to schedule my interview appointment. She too asked if my daughter was disabled and told me she isn’t qualified to live there, even if she is my caretaker. WRONG. Instead of filing a complaint with HUD, I called Senator Donald Norcross’s office, I sent this in an email to a Gloucester County Freeholder (who’s husband happens to sit on the board of the Glassboro Housing Authority). I cited both comments from above. Even if I do get the apartment, I am filing a complaint with HUD.
When a entity owns a housing complex that houses disabled residents, shouldn’t the leasing agent be well versed in the Americans with Disabilities Act?