Section 504: Accessibility
About Section 504
HHA is committed to ensuring that all residents, including those with disabilities, have safe, sanitary, and appropriate housing. The Authority will strive to meet the needs of its applicants and residents with disabilities and do so in the most integrated setting as possible.
HHA has accessible apartments in a variety of our communities. Current residents requiring a reasonable accommodation please review the Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form by clicking the icon at the top of the page. You may also contact the Resident Services Department.
Should you have any questions, or if you have comments or suggestions on how the Housing Authority can better serve its residents with disabilities, please use the button below to contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is protected by Section 504?
How is disability defined under Section 504?
The term major life activity may include, for example, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one’s self, learning, speaking, or working. This list is not exhaustive. Section 504 also protects persons who have a record of such impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment. For more information, visit Disability Overview.
What discriminatory practices does Section 504 prohibit?
In general, with respect to housing, HHA cannot deny or refuse to sell or rent to a person with a disability, and cannot impose application or qualification criteria, rental fees or sales prices, and rental or sales terms or conditions that are different than those required of or provided to persons without disabilities.
HHA cannot not require persons with disabilities to live only on certain floors, or in one section of the housing. Housing providers may not refuse to make repairs, and may not limit or deny someone with a disability access to recreational and other public and common use facilities, parking privileges, cleaning or janitorial services, or any services which are made available to other residents without disabilities. Additionally, persons with disabilities may not be denied the opportunity to serve on planning or advisory boards because of their disabilities.
Does Section 504 require HHA to accept every person with a disability who applies for housing?
Applicants, with or without a disability, may be rejected if they have a record of adversely affecting others such as excessively disturbing neighbors, destroying property, or failing to pay their rent on time. However, under Section 504, the HHA must make sound and reasonable judgments based on objective and reliable evidence (current conduct or a history of overt acts).
Subjective fears, unsubstantiated rumors, speculation and generalized suspicion do not constitute objective information that an applicant cannot meet the terms of tenancy. HHA also subject to reasonable accommodation requirements with respect to such policies and may be required to make exceptions based on the manifestations of some disabilities.
Can a landlord charge a higher security deposit to a person who uses a wheelchair because of concerns about damage to the unit?
What is a reasonable accommodation under Section 504?
In order to show that a requested accommodation may be necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the individual’s disability. As discussed in the next question and answer, what is reasonable must be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, experience has shown that the following examples are often reasonable accommodations:
- A federally-assisted housing provider has a policy of not providing assigned parking spaces. A tenant with a mobility impairment, who has difficulty walking, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being given an assigned accessible parking space in front of the entrance to his unit.
- A federally-assisted housing provider has a policy of requiring tenants to come to the rental office to pay their rent. A tenant with a mental disability, who is afraid to leave her unit, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being allowed to mail her rent payment.
- A federally-assisted housing provider has a no pets policy. A tenant, who uses a wheelchair and has difficulty picking up items off the ground, is allowed to have an assistance animal that fetches things for her as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.
- An older tenant has a stroke and begins to use a wheelchair. Her apartment has steps at the entrance and she needs a ramp to enter the unit. Her federally-assisted housing provider pays for the construction of a ramp as a reasonable accommodation to the tenant’s disability.
When and how should I request a reasonable accommodation?
To request reasonable accommodation, scroll to the top of this page and click the “Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form” icon to open the form. You can print this form, fill it out, and return it to the Resident Services office located within Potomac Towers on 11 W. Baltimore St. in Hagerstown.
What is an accessible unit, based on Section 504's requirements?
Discrimination Complaint Process
If you have a complaint about HHA’s adherence to Section 504 guidelines– for example, if you feel that you or someone you know with a disability has been discriminated against by HHA, you can file a complaint with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development).
If you would like to file a discrimination complaint, click the button below to access a form where you can voice your complaint.
Once you have filled out the form, you can either email it to email@example.com, or mail it to this address:
Philadelphia Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, 12th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-3380
Guidelines for filing a complaint:
If you have a legitimate complaint regarding discrimination, it is important to file a complaint so that the issue can be addressed and resolved. However, there are some guidelines you must follow to make sure your complaint is considered legitimate by HUD.
- Your complaint must contain: the complainant’s name and address; the name and address of the individual or organization alleged to have discriminated; and a description of the discriminatory actions and the date of those actions.
- You must file your complaint within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. In some cases, this amount may be lengthened on the basis of good cause. The complaint will be deemed “received” on the date postmarked.
- You may file a complaint for yourself. If you cannot fill out the form yourself, you can get a representative/case manager to file the complaint for you.
- Section 504 discrimination complaints can only be filed if the discriminatory act is in regards to someone with a disability. Other forms of discrimination (race, religion, etc.) have a different complaint process.
After filing a complaint:
Within 20 days of receiving your complaint, HUD will determine whether or not to accept, reject, or refer your complaint to a different Federal agency (if the complaint does not appear to fall under Section 504 jurisdiction). You will be notified of this decision.
If your complaint is accepted, HUD will also notify the organization at fault. At that point, the organization will have 30 days to respond to the allegations.
Resolution of the Complaint:
During the complaint investigation, HUD will encourage a voluntary resolution between the parties. This means that HUD will work with the complainant and the organization to come to a solution to the issue that is agreed upon and accepted by both parties. A volunteer resolution is the preferred resolution, and HUD wishes to emphasize that all efforts will be made to reach a voluntary solution.
However, if a voluntary resolution can not be reached, it may be necessary for HUD to issue a formal Letter of Determination. If, within 10 days of the receipt of the Letter of Determination, the parties still have not complied to the solution outlined in the letter, HUD will initiate enforcement of legal proceedings.
For more information about the discrimination complaint process, click the button below.