Sometimes we stumble upon news from the apartment rental market that is not so reassuring, but it certainly identifies ways in which we can improve our apartment search and apartment guide to better help renters looking for apartments for rent.
It took the threat of a lawsuit to get the Housing Authority of New Haven (HANH) to respond to repeated attempts by a disabled woman to get assistance with her apartment search for accessible section 8 housing.
Rebecca Taylor enlisted the legal help of Jennifer Vickery, who filed a class action suit against the HANH, under the assumption there were others who had been neglected a suitable apartment finder as well.
Vickery had actually filed a similar suit last year on behalf of a 14 year old boy in a wheelchair, which had induced the ruling judge to cite the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement that all housing authorities must assist the disabled in finding suitable homes.
The HAHN defended itself by claiming ignorance. “It came to our attention through the suit,” claimed chief operation officer, Karen DuBois-Walton. Vickery, conversely, claims that her client had been denied help on several occasions.
All Taylor really wants, it seems, is a detailed list of apartments for rent and homes that accept Section 8 vouchers that are handicap accessible. The New Haven Housing Authority has failed to provide this despite signing voluntary compliance agreements in 1994 and 2007 after HUD censured the organization for its lack of resources for handicapped renters looking for section 8 apartments.
Finding Information on Section 8 Apartments and Housing Laws for the Disabled
I can certainly understand her frustration. Just trying to research standards and regulations regarding handicap accessibility was difficult enough, let alone trying to apply include these regulations, (once found) to a search for Section 8 apartments.
We’ve tried to do our part in providing useful tips for section 8 housing as well as a list of links that provide information on local programs and housing authorities in the MyNewPlace Apartment Guide. We have an entire section dedicated to tips for renters looking for low income and section 8 apartments.
It took me a good amount of time to find any relevant or helpful information on what the Fair Housing Act actually entails. We had reported on a case (Garcia v Brockway), which contested the appropriate statute of limitations on liabilities assessed to apartment owners in the event of a handicap accessibility problem.
After searching, on a multitude of different keyword permutations, for the specific types of accessibility that apartment owners are required by law to provide, I finally found a recently released a joint statement from HUD and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The joint statement declares that a landlord or apartment owner is required to make ‘reasonable modifications,’ but at the renter’s expense. Typical reasonable modifications include widening doorways for wheelchairs, installing grab bars in bathrooms, lowering kitchen cabinets, adding a ramp to the main entrance.
What seems to be leaving people like Ms. Taylor behind is the fact that they are financially responsible for any changes that would need to be made. The disconnect between the Section 8 Housing Voucher program and HUD’s Fair Housing Act enforcement makes it difficult for disabled people to find the section 8 apartments they need.
MyNewPlace’s apartment search and apartment guide are both great resources for renters looking for apartments that meet their needs.
Let us know how you have fared finding apartments with specific amenities using MyNewPlace; we are continually looking to improve our apartment finder and expand our apartment guide.