Posted on June 22, 2023

A Reasonable Accommodation to Prevent Homelessness

"Cindy" has a Public Housing voucher and intellectual/learning disabilities. "Cindy" had successfully completed dozens of annual reviews for her voucher and had no difficulty with her documentation. However, this time, her elderly mother with disabilities had moved in with her and for the first time ever, the routine paperwork was different.

"Cindy" submitted a “Change of Circumstances” form to the Housing Authority as instructed and verbally informed the Property Manager about her mom moving in due to her multiple falls and hospitalizations.

Due to Cindy's intellectual disabilities and literacy challenges, she believed she had completed the change process correctly and when notified it was "incomplete and at risk of losing her voucher for non compliance," she diligently resubmitted the same exact papers several more times. What "Cindy" did not understand was she needed to include “Official 3rd party” income or tax records, bank statements, and Dept. of Social and Health Services receipts for the new household member. The “Change of Circumstances” form is for self reporting the information, but it is not "proof" enough to meet the requirements for keeping the voucher.

"Cindy" was panicked about becoming homeless with her frail mother and reached out to NWFHA. Because of "Cindy's" disability related issue, NWFHA requested three reasonable accommodations on her behalf. 1.) a new informal hearing with the Housing Authority to appeal the termination, 2.) an opportunity to “cure” the violation, and 3.) for all future changes or annual recertifications to be made by an in-person appointment with a housing authority caseworker. (In person meetings with caseworkers at the Housing Authority were halted during COVID and clients with many intellectual or learning disabilities were unable to navigate the online/virtual process.)

The Housing Authority granted the reasonable accommodations. Once Cindy understood, she immediately gathered the 3rd Party statements and submitted them. Her voucher was reinstated, the family remained housed and homelessness was avoided.