Celebrating Disability Pride Month

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Celebrating Disability Pride Month

Did you know that July is Disability Pride Month? It celebrates the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July of 1990. In July of 2015, the first official celebration of Disability Pride Month took place, also marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. Today, July 26, is National Disability Independence Day, commemorating the date the ADA was signed into law in 1990.

 

 

Protections for Disabled Individuals Under the Law

Disability is a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act. This means that the FHA prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings and in other housing-related activities based on disability. The law applies to a broad range of persons and entities, including public housing agencies, property owners, landlords, housing managers, real estate agents, brokerage service agencies, and banks.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. It states that no qualified individuals with disabilities should, solely by reason of their disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This includes Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) as well as other HUD funding programs.

There are many different definitions of a person with a disability. The definition of “person with a disability” does not include current users of illegal controlled substances but does provide protections for individuals with drug or alcohol addiction. Individuals would also be protected under Section 504 and the ADA if a purpose of the specific program or activity is to provide health or rehabilitation services to such individuals.

 



FHA and ADA – what’s the difference? (Source: The Fair Housing Institute)

 

Interested in learning more about the differences between the Fair Housing Act and the American Disabilities Act as it pertains to housing? We recommend checking out this resource.

 



 

Reasonable Accommodations

In Oregon, if you are a person with a disability, you cannot be treated differently when looking for housing.

Your landlord should support reasonable accommodations you need or work with you to find reasonable alternatives. However, they can turn those requests down if they are too costly, an undue burden, outside of their job description or too dangerous.

Under the Fair Housing Act, a reasonable accommodation is defined as a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces, or to fulfill their program obligations. The ADA often refers to these types of accommodations as “modifications.” Housing providers are not allowed to require people with disabilities to pay extra fees or deposits or place any other special conditions or requirements as a condition of receiving a reasonable accommodation. Some examples include wheelchairs, walkers and assistance animals.

When it comes to housing, a reasonable modification is defined as a structural change made to existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, in order to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises. In most cases where a tenant needs to pay for the reasonable modification, the housing provider can require that the modification is up to code and can also require that the tenant change it back at time of move out. However, if the housing is federally funded, then the housing provider is required to pay for the modification.

 

 

Fair Housing and Assistance Animals

People have the right to ask for accommodations to rules and procedures in housing due to disability. Many people living with disabilities don’t know that they have the right to request an exception to a ‘no animals’ rule if they need an assistance animal for their disability.

Check out our recent webinar, Fair Housing and Assistance Animals, that covers requesting reasonable accommodations for assistance animals and the types of disability verification to use with these requests.

 

Supporting Disability Rights in our Community

Partner Stories

Creating Opportunities has partnered with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon to educate people with developmental disabilities and their families about their housing rights protections. We have co-hosted a training for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families that covered housing rights topics, such as Signs of Housing Discrimination and Rules about Assistance Animals. We have also launched a social media campaign, where we are publishing ‘postcards’ that detail housing rights issues that directly impact people with disabilities and their families.

— Alesha Sangster, Project Associate – Health & Housing Equity, Creating Opportunities

We have a Deaf client who was houseless for five years. They have money for monthly rent; however, they do not have money for startup costs such as application fees, deposits, etc. We supported them by encouraging them to look for places that they could afford, and they found several places. It was not easy to find, however they persisted and found a place where we could support them by contacting the manager who was supportive as well. In a month, everything was taken care of, and they moved into an apartment.

They shared that they were so happy and thankful for Housing Bridges Oregon to stand by them from day one. We are excited to get one person from living in a vehicle into an apartment. We are looking forward to more Deaf/DeafBlind/Hard of Hearing people not to continue living on the street or in vehicles but to relocate into a place where they could call their place a home.

— Julie Reis, Bridges Oregon Housing Services

Client Story

I was first put on the Family Unification Program housing list in 2019 right before COVID-19 hit. Flash forward three years, and I was finally sent my voucher in late Feb. 2022. However, when I got my voucher, it was incorrect and was missing one of my children’s names.

Then I had to start the process of filing for two separate accommodations for separate bedrooms because I have two children who are disabled. That was a very long process of about two and a half months of going back-and-forth with Northwest Oregon Housing Authority (NOHA) and providing all of the documentation several times, but it was finally approved in May of this year! 

My partner and I have been in addiction recovery for years now but made some pretty bad choices in our addiction, which left us in a bad place as potential renters. We had three years of good rental history, but our landlord was a local slumlord who refused to give us a good recommendation or even verify our rental history with him. So, I had to write letter after letter pleading my case with each place I applied to.

Finally, I found two places that entertained giving me a reasonable accommodation for my partner’s criminal history and my credit. The first ended up not renting to me because they couldn’t verify my rental history. The second was an independent homeowner, Mark, who was understanding and compassionate. When I first started communicating with Mark, I was upfront and honest about our history — the good and the bad.

I had to go into detail about our finances so I could prove we were capable of paying rent. I even reached out to FHCO and asked for help when I thought he might choose someone else. I used the correct language, which is important and most of all I was open and honest.

I found a way to connect with Mark and tried my hardest to show him that we wanted his rental as much as everyone else did. Thankfully he chose us, even though he had no idea how NOHA worked. I helped him get signed up as a landlord got him in touch with the people that he needed to talk to, and I used my resources.

We were terrified we wouldn’t find housing. I had to have applied to every house and apartment that came available from February to June… but we finally found our home. And this home has changed our lives. You’ll find yours too — just don’t give up advocating for yourself. Know the laws that protect you and utilize your support people, like Eliza at FHCO!

— Jessica Ruby, FHCO Client

 

 

Resources for People Living with Disabilities

 

 

Tools for People Living with Disabilities

 

 

Report Housing Discrimination

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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