Statement and Definition
It is the policy of the Amherst Housing Authority not to discriminate against persons with disabilities in its employment and housing practices. HUD's Section 504 regulations require that recipients of HUD funding provide "reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitation of another wise qualified applicant with handicaps or employees with handicaps". Applicants for employment, employees, tenants, and applicants for housing who identify themselves as individuals with disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodation. The definition of disability under Section 504 includes "any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of having such as impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504, Title II of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the Fair Housing Act, and the Mass. Housing Bill of Rights for Persons with Disabilities require that the AHA "makes reasonable modifications in its policies, rules, practices or procedures when such modifcations are necessary to avoid discrimination." 

The Executive Director of the Amherst Housing Authority is designated as the Authority's 504 Coordinator. The 504 Coordinator will be responsible for reviewing reasonable accommodation and modification requests by AHA employment applicants, employees, housing applicants, and tenants. 

For the purposes of this policy, the word tenant includes any member of the tenant household included in the lease agreement. 

Notification Procedure 
Applicants for employment, employees, applicants for housing, and tenants who identify themselves as individuals with disabilities may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. 

1. Applicants for employment The AHA shall conduct job interviews in wheelchair accessible locations. Applicants will be notified of the availability of reasonable accommodations when an interview is being scheduled. 

2. Employees All employees of the Amherst Housing Authority shall be given a copy of this policy. 

3. Applicants All application forms for housing used by the AHA shall contain language which states that accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested. 

4. Tenants All AHA tenants have been notified that accommodations and/or modifications for persons with disabilities may be requested. Tenant handbooks include this language as well. 

All requests for modifications and/or accommodations and related information will be kept confidential. 

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Requests for Reasonable Modifications 
Tenant A reasonable modification is defined as modifications to the tenant's physical environment in order to enable an individual with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home. 

Employee For purposes of employment, modifications are physical changes in the work environment or equipment which enables a qualified employee with a disability equal opportunity to perform the job. 

The attached Accommodation or Modification form (#1) shall be used for all requests. The form and its instructions (#2) shall be given to any applicant (employment or housing), employee, or tenant who requests it and will be available at the main office. 

Requests for Reasonable Accommodations 
Applicants for employment, employees, applicants for housing, tenant A reasonable accommodation is defined as the modification of rules, policies, practices or procedures which may hinder the ability of persons with a disability equal opportunity to apply for employment or housing or to enjoy their home or to perform their job. 

The same form which is used for modifications will also be used for accommodation requests. 

Modification Review 
The 504 Coordinator shall review each request and may require additional information if needed. Additional information may include verification of the existence of a disability, the need for the accommodation or modification requested, and the relationship between the disability and the request. 

A meeting may be held between the 504 Coordinator and the person requesting the modification/ accommodation to discuss how his/her particular needs can best be addressed. 

The 504 Coordinator will decide, within 30 days after receipt of the modification/accommodation form and additional information, whether to provide the accommodation/modification. Written notice of the decision setting out the modification/accommodation granted or the reason why modification or accommodation was not granted will be sent to the tenant/appl¬icant/employee. If the Coordinator is unable to reach a decision within 30 days, she will notify the tenant/applicant/employee in writing of the reason for the delay. 

If the request is approved, the AHA will attempt to complete the actions required to provide the modification or accommodation within 60 days. If this is not possible, the AHA will notify the tenant/applicant/employee in writing of the reason for the delay. 

If the request for accommodation or modification is denied, a tenant shall have the right to grieve the denial in accordance with the AHA grievance procedure. An employee shall have the right to grieve in accordance with the AHA Personnel Plan. An applicant may appeal the decision to the AHA's Affirmative Action officer. 

Evaluation of Undue Burden 
The AHA does not have to provide an accommodation or modification which "would impose an undue hardship" or "fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity" or provide an "undue financial and/or administrative burden". 

Every reasonable accommodation/modification request shall be reviewed on a case by case basis. The Coordinator shall determine if the request is reasonable by reviewing the following factors:

  • Nature and cost of the accommodation or modification
  • The extent to which the accommodation or modification would materially alter the marketability of the housing; and
  • The overall size of the housing development including number and type of units
  • The size of the budget and operating reserves
  • Amount of administrative burden
  • The extent to which provision of fundamentally different services than others offered by the AHA

The Coordinator shall document the review and decision making process for future reference.