We will be featuring blog postings from our Veteran Apprentice, Curt Haney, as he takes a look at Disability Rights.
“I would like to comment on problems that some people with disabilities may have with their local authorities concerning property codes, zoning problems and reasonable accommodations of disabled citizens.
As a cost saving measure a lot of local towns, townships and other local authorities have downsized their workforce to include more part-time employees than full-time employees. In doing so, the position of ADA coordinator was one position that was downsized and through attrition, the knowledge base of disability law (ADA and the Rehab Acts), has more or less disappeared. The Fair Housing Act may also have some jurisdictional elements also.
Anyone with these problems will likely find out when bills start appearing in their mail for code violations, or when they receive a warning letter. Usually an email contact (preferred) or a phone call will remedy the situation, but then there are some authorities that completely refuse to grant “reasonable accommodations” because the authority does not understand what is required of them, by law under the Disability Laws, or know what the “Supremacy Clause” of the US Constitution is. This mostly occurs in smaller jurisdictions such as towns and villages.
Most of situations are the result of the disabled property owner not having the ability to maintain mowing the grass in summer or not shoving the sidewalk in winter and dealing with an authority that just does not understand or refuses to understand.
As a person with a disability that is unable to mow the grass or shovel the sidewall, a person can request “reasonable accommodation” under Title #2 of the ADA from the local authority that is enforcing the code violation.
Under Title #2 of the ADA, an authority that has more than 50 employees (both full and part time) MUST have a responsible designated employee to be the ADA coordinator, a person will sometimes find out that the authority does not have someone assigned to that position. There has to be some sort of grievance policy published with appeal rights in case a request for reasonable accommodations is denied. Both the name and grievance procedure has to be published and assessable to the public, usually on their website. 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.105, 35.150(d)
If the local authority does not have anything that is required under the law, just submit a FOIA request and have them explain to the judge why they do not have the coordinator, grievance policy or a location of such information that is available to the public.
The only rights you have are the ones you fight for.”
Department of Justice publications: