Fair Housing & Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable Accommodations

Atlanta Housing complies with federal and state disability laws and reasonably accommodates individuals with disabilities.

The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19, protects individuals from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, national origin, and disability. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, federal law requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for tenants and homebuyers with disabilities. These laws also protect persons who do not have a disability but live or are associated with someone who is disabled.

In addition to the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Title II requires public entities and public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination. However, a public entity is not required to make accommodations and modifications that could fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 requires that federally funded programs or activities make reasonable accommodations necessary for individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate fully in a program, service, housing, or job. Under Section 504, housing providers are required to make and pay for reasonable accommodation unless providing the accommodation would be an undue financial and administrative burden or a fundamental alteration of the program.


What is a Reasonable Accommodation or Reasonable Modification?

Reasonable Accommodation (“RA”):  A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation, or modification to a usual policy, program, or service that would allow a person with a disability to fully participate in a program or take advantage of a service.

Reasonable Modification (“RM”): A reasonable modification is a structural change made to a unit or common area, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, to afford such person full enjoyment of the unit or common area.

What is a disability?

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, such as caring for oneself, manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, or learning; or an individual with a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

In general, a physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, conditions such as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), developmental disabilities, and mental illness, etc.

What are some examples of Reasonable Accommodations or Reasonable Modifications?

Installing grab bars in the bathroom, visual alarms, ramp, raised toilet seat, communication in an alternate format, service/emotional support animals, designated accessible parking, Live-in aide, unit transfer, and/or transfer to another unit.

How can I ask for a Reasonable Accommodation?

Atlanta Housing Assisted Residents: To make a reasonable accommodation request, please contact your on-site property management and request a reasonable accommodation. The property management may ask you to fill out a form so they are sure about your request. Please be aware that if your disability status is unknown, if your disabling condition is not visible, or if your disabling condition is not apparent, property management may ask you to provide verification from a third-party professional with personal knowledge of the disability, otherwise, medical verification will not be required.

Housing Choice Voucher Participants: Please contact the Housing Choice Voucher department at (404) 892-4700, and the senior customer service representative will assist you in requesting reasonable accommodation. The Representative may ask you to fill out a form so they are sure about your request. They may also ask you to provide information about your medical professional so they can get an expert opinion from that medical professional to support your request. Please be aware that if your disability status is unknown, if your disabling condition is not visible, or if your disabling condition is not apparent, property management may ask you to provide verification from a third-party professional with personal knowledge of the disability, otherwise, medical verification will not be required.

Must the request for reasonable accommodation be made in writing?

Requests for reasonable accommodation may be submitted in writing or verbally. Although you may request a reasonable accommodation or modification verbally, it is better to submit it in writing so that it is very clear what you are requesting and there is no confusion about what you may need.

Is medical verification required to support a reasonable accommodation request?

You are not required to support your reasonable accommodation request with medical verification unless your disability status is unknown or if your disabling condition is not visible or apparent. However, you may be required to provide verification that your request for reasonable accommodation is directly connected to your disability.

Can a request for reasonable accommodation be denied?

Requests for Reasonable Accommodation can be denied for a number of reasons. These may include when the request it is not related to the disability, is not reasonable, lacks verification, results in an undue financial and administrative burden, and/or requires a fundamental alteration to the housing program or service.

How long does the reasonable accommodation process take?

A request for reasonable accommodation may take up to 30 days to be completed. Please note that depending on the request and unforeseen circumstances, some requests may take more than 30 days, especially those that require additional information from medical professionals.

Can my property manager retaliate against me if I file a reasonable accommodation request?

No. AH does not tolerate or condone any retaliation against a resident for filing a reasonable accommodation request or complaint.

If I need a service or emotional support animal, am I required to pay a pet deposit or monthly pet fees?

No. If the reasonable accommodation supports the need for a service or emotional support animal, a resident will not have to pay a pet deposit, pet rent or liability insurance for a service or emotional support animal. The type of animal may be subject to reasonable property-related rules designed to keep the property safe for other residents.  Also, you will still have to clean up after the animal and pay for any damage done to the unit by the service or emotional support animal.

What is the Voluntary Compliance Agreement (“VCA”)?

The Voluntary Compliance Agreement (“VCA”) is an agreement between HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Department (“HUD FHEO”) and Atlanta Housing. Under the Agreement, AH agrees to pay careful attention to reasonable accommodation requests made by assisted residents, which includes significant tracking and reporting requirements to HUD FHEO. The Agreement lasts for three years and allows for payments to residents whose requests were unreasonably denied or delayed. A link to the VCA can be found here.

What if I am unhappy with the decision about my reasonable accommodation request?

You may request a review of your situation to AH by requesting a grievance meeting. AH has a Reasonable Accommodation Grievance Procedure.  You may read the Procedure here. Generally, the Procedure addresses the following:

How to Request a Grievance: Email your request to Accessibility@atlantahousing.org.

Reasons for Grievance Request:  Residents and applicants may pursue a grievance meeting with the AH  Section 504 Accessibility professional related to the following:

    • An unreasonably denied request for reasonable accommodation/modification
    • An unreasonably delayed response or completion of a request for reasonable accommodation/modification
    • Refusal or failure to implement an approved accommodation/modification 

Contents of the Grievance Request:

    • A clear and precise statement of the complaint.
    • Statement(s) clarifying how the action is discriminatory or how the decision is unreasonable if it is a denial of a requested accommodation/modification
    • The requested remedy
    • Evidence or supporting documentation/information
    • Name of the property

Is there other reasonable accommodation information from AH that may interest me?

The following links contain additional reasonable accommodation information regarding Atlanta Housing policies and practices:

What if I have questions about the VCA?

If you have questions about the VCA, contact Atlanta Housing’s Section 504 Coordinator at Accessibility@atlantahousing.org.

Open Site-based Fully Accessible Unit Waiting List On July 1, 2017

Starting on July 1, 2017, multiple properties (Atlanta Housing Authority-Owned or affiliated properties) are accepting pre-applications for units receiving rental assistance in several fully accessible apartments. Fully accessible units are designed for residents with mobility-related disabilities or who may use a wheelchair or scooter. These apartments vary in size from ONE TO FOUR bedroom apartments. Eligible residents will pay no more than 30% of their adjusted monthly income for rent and utilities, subject to applicable requirements. The community types are family for all, senior for residents 62 or older or adults with a disability 18 years or older, and supportive for residents with specialized designations such as veterans, adults who’ve aged out of foster care, and more.

For a Listing of Communities with an Open Waiting List, click here. Please contact the property of interest directly with questions and/or to be placed on their individual waiting lists. You may waitlist with more than one property. 

How Does the Program Work?

Program participation mandates the AHA work requirement, which is that at least one non-disabled adult member of the household, age 18 to 61, must be legally employed or self-employed on a full-time basis at least 20 hours per week in a legitimate business enterprise as appropriately documented as required by management procedures. Each other household member 18 years old and above must be either:

  • Legally employed or self-employed (as described above) on a full-time equivalent basis at least 20 hours per week
  • A full-time student at a management-approved and recognized school or institution
  • Employed (but not self-employed) on a part-time basis and either (i) attending a management-approved and recognized school or institution or (ii) participating in a management-approved and recognized training program for a combined minimum total of at least 20 hours per week of employment and education/training
  • Participating in a management-recognized training program

NOTE: The Work/Program Participation Requirement does not apply to households in which all adult members of the household are either 62 years of age or older, a person with a verified disability

Eligibility and Priority Categories

Eligible applicants will be ranked on the site-based waiting list according to the recorded date and time their fully completed pre-application forms were received and accepted by management. Applicants who request a fully accessible unit will also be placed on both standard and accessible unit waiting lists if both are open.

Please note that an applicant desiring to lease an assisted apartment must comply with all applicable eligibility criteria, including but not limited to the criteria set forth in the pre-application. All information the applicant provides will be verified from all applicable sources, including, but not limited to, employers, providers, and federal, state, and local government agencies. Applicants who have misrepresented any information during the application process may be removed from the site-based waiting list or, if housed, subject to lease termination. In addition, applicants who have previously participated in any assisted housing program and were terminated for cause may not be eligible. Determined ineligible applicants will be offered the opportunity to participate in an informal meeting with management to dispute the ineligibility decision.

Requests for Reasonable Accommodations during the pre-application process will be taken by telephone at each community, and the phone numbers indicated on the above list or TTY/Relay 711.