Sometimes people with disabilities may need a reasonable accommodation in order to take full advantage of the South Portland Housing Authority housing programs and related services. When such accommodations are granted, they do not confer special treatment or advantage for the person with a disability, rather, they make the program fully accessible to them in a way that would otherwise not be possible due to their disability. It is the policy of the South Portland Housing Authority to be in full compliance with all requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as well as the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA).
The Fair Housing Act and Maine Human Rights Act require housing providers to provide reasonable accommodations to the limitations of disabled residents. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments and their instrumentalities, including housing providers, to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled residents. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires any program that receives federal funds to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled participants and forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services.
The Fair Housing Act defines a person with a disability to include:
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, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism.
The term “substantially limits” suggests that the limitation is “significant” or “to a large degree.”
The term “major life activity” means those activities that are of central importance to daily life, such as seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, and speaking. This list of major life activities is not exhaustive.
In general, a reasonable accommodation is a modification in the rules, policies, practices, or services of a housing provider that is necessary to afford a disabled resident an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
The Authority’s reasonable accommodation policy is designed to ensure that a resident with a disability is provided with the modifications or accommodations that are necessary to allow the resident to enjoy equal access to our housing programs and related services. Our residents will be informed of the availability of our accommodation process through notices on appropriate Authority forms and letters, including but not limited to at the time of application and lease signing, and at the time of the annual lease renewal. A request for reasonable accommodation can be made by the resident with the disability, a family member, or someone else acting on the individual’s behalf. The Authority shall make available to all persons applying for residency at the Authority, or who are currently residents, notice of the option to request a reasonable accommodation. The process for making such requests shall be accessible to all persons so an individual can understand, in a format that is appropriate to meet the needs of the individual’s disability. The Authority shall post this Policy and the related forms on its website. The following procedures will be followed by Authority representatives in implementing our reasonable accommodation policy:
All decisions made by the Authority on a reasonable accommodation request shall be kept confidential except insofar as disclosure is necessary to implement an approved accommodation. Any denial of an individual’s request for reasonable accommodation shall explained to the individual, in writing, the basis for the decision and the reason(s) why the request is being denied. The individual shall also be informed of his or her right to request in writing, an informal hearing on the decision by the Fair Housing Coordinator.