Sherry J. Smith, Interim Coordinator
Office of the ADA/504 Program
District of Columbia Housing Authority
1133 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
The District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) is committed to operating all of its housing programs in a fair and impartial way. In addition to requiring fairness and impartiality without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, personal appearance, familial status, marital status, political affiliation, source of income, matriculation and place of residence or business, DCHA is committed to providing programs in a way that does not discriminate against individuals with disabilities.
DCHA is subject to several laws governing rights of the disabled, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act mandates that federal fund recipients such as DCHA, ensure that their programs are accessible to qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 504 also requires DCHA to ensure that individuals with physical and mental disabilities have the opportunity to participate equally in programs and activities. It aims to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities by ensuring certain accessibility standards are met when building or altering facilities, as well as protection in programs and activities.
The Office of the ADA/504 program provides civil rights protection in several areas to people with disabilities. It similarly provides for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA extends section 504’s mandate of nondiscrimination based on disability to state and local government agencies not covered by section 504. ADA seeks to dispel stereotypes and assumptions about disabilities and ensure equal opportunity and encourage full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for disabled people.
ADA/504 Program Coordinator
DCHA must designate and publicize the availability of at least one person to coordinate its efforts to comply with Section 504 and the ADA. The person assigned Section 504 and ADA responsibilities have open and regular communications throughout the organization to coordinate and oversee ongoing compliance efforts with the support of the Executive Director.
Voluntary Compliance Agreements
DCHA is pleased to announce that its commitment to excellence includes an enhanced focus to ensure that disabled individuals have the opportunity to enjoy a fully accessible Housing Authority. As part of this commitment DCHA is currently renovating and constructing 565 wheelchair accessible units over the next five years, with most of the units coming on-line within the first three years.
DCHA has entered into mutually binding agreements with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to accomplish these goals. These agreements also address necessary administrative steps, including the designation of dedicated personnel such as the ADA/504 Coordinator, as well as the adoption of several new and revised policies and procedures which have been reviewed and approved by HUD.
Policies and Procedures
Reasonable Accommodation Policy
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A Reasonable Accommodation is a change, modification, alteration or adaptation in a policy, procedure, practice, program, or facility that provides a person with a disability the opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, a program (housing or non-housing) or activity.
Who can receive a reasonable accommodation?
The Reasonable Accommodation Policy applies to qualified individuals with disabilities in the following programs provided by the DCHA:
(a) Applicants of public housing;
(b) Applicants of all Housing Choice Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation Programs;
(c) Residents of public housing developments;
(d) Participants of the Housing Choice Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation Programs; and
(e) Participants in all other programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance that are conducted or sponsored by the DCHA, its agents or contractors including all non-housing facilities and common areas owned or operated by the DCHA
Who is a person with a disability?
A person with a disability means an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
- Making documents available in large type, computer disc, Braille or providing a reader to a vision-impaired applicant;
- Making a sign language interpreter available to a hearing-impaired applicant during a meeting with staff, interviews or at resident meetings;
- Permitting an outside agency or family member to assist an applicant or resident to meet DCHA’s applicant screening criteria or meeting essential lease obligations;
Public Housing Residents
- Making a DCHA unit, part of a unit or public and common use element wheelchair accessible for the head of household or a household member with a disability that is on the lease;
- Installing strobe type flashing light smoke detectors and lights or other such equipment in a DCHA housing unit for a family member with a hearing-impairment;
- Permitting a family to have a service or assistance animal necessary to assist a household member with a disability in a DCHA development;
- Allowing a live-in aid to reside in an appropriately sized DCHA 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;
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Applicants
- 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;
- As a reasonable accommodation for a family member with a disability, approving a request for exception payment standard amounts under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program;
- Provide search assistance to disabled Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program participants; and
- Provide to Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program participants a list of properties known to DCHA that have accessibility features.
When can I make a reasonable accommodation request?
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 DCHA. All requests must be reduced to writing by the individual, DCHA staff or any person identified by the individual.
How does a public housing resident apply for a reasonable accommodation?
The Property Manager shall request documentation of the need for a Reasonable
Accommodation as identified on the Request for Reasonable Accommodation form as well as suggested reasonable accommodations to assist the resident in the opportunity to fully enjoy the dwelling unit or non-housing program.
Who can verify my disability and need for an accommodation?
The following may provide verification of a resident’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation:
(b) Licensed health professional;
(c) Professional representing a social service agency; or
(d) Disability agency or clinic.
What happens to my request after I submit it to the property manager?
The property manager forwards their recommendation and all materials and verifications to the Director of Housing Management in the Regional Office.
The Director of Housing Management for the Region may approve a request for a reasonable accommodation, but may not deny a request. The decision to approve or recommend denial of the reasonable accommodation request shall be made as expeditiously as possible. All recommendations for denial from the Director of Housing Management for the Region must be forwarded to the ADA/504 Coordinator for further review and final determination.
Once the decision has been made to approve a request for a reasonable accommodation, a copy of all documents shall be forwarded to the ADA/504 Coordinator. The resident will be notified in writing of the final reasonable Accommodation determination by the ADA/504 Coordinator, Regional Office or property manager. If the accommodation is approved, 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.
All recommendations that have been approved by the ADA/504 Coordinator will be forwarded to the appropriate Regional Director of Housing Management for implementation. All requests for reasonable accommodation that are approved by the Director of Housing Management will promptly be implemented or begin the process of implementation DCHA will seek to provide the individual with a disability an alternative opportunity to fully participate in the program or activity provided by DCHA if their request cannot be approved.
How does an applicant for any type of housing apply for a reasonable accommodation?
The Client Placement Division shall request documentation of the need for a Reasonable Accommodation as identified on the Request for Reasonable Accommodation form as well as suggested reasonable accommodations to assist the applicant with the opportunity to apply for housing. However, an applicant family that has a member with a disability must still be able to meet the basic requirements of tenancy—they must be able to pay rent, to care for their housing unit, to report required information to the Housing Authority, to avoid disturbing their neighbors, etc. Still, there is no requirement that they be able to do these things without assistance.
Can a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program participant request a physical change to their home the same way public housing residents can?
A Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program participant may request permission from the landlord to install accessible features into their unit at the tenant’s expense. DCHA cannot make private landlords participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program or Moderate Rehabilitation Program modify their existing units.
Residents and applicants of public housing that are not satisfied with the decision on their request for reasonable accommodation by the ADA/504 Coordinator, may file a complaint requesting an administrative hearing with the Office of Fair Hearings. Hearing officers have the authority to review the requests for accommodation and offer a different determination to the Executive Director or his designee.
** If you or a member of your family has a disability, you may request a reasonable accommodation during the application process or after admission. This is up to you.**