What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals. Agencies are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship to the agencies.
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 Belchertown Housing Authority (BHA) "makes reasonable modifications in its policies, rules, practices or procedures when such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination."
The Executive Director of the Belchertown Housing Authority is designated as the Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator. The Coordinator is responsible for reviewing reasonable accommodation and modification requests by employment applicants, employees, housing applicants, and tenants. For the purposes of this policy, the word tenant includes any member of the tenant household included under the lease agreement.
All requests for modifications and/or accommodations and related information will be kept confidential.
Requests for Reasonable Accommodations or modifications
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. 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. There is an Accommodation or Modification request form that shall be used for all requests. The form and its instructions shall be given to any applicant (for employment or housing), employee, or tenant who requests it. It is available at the main office and also as a link under the Resources section on the menu to the left.
If the request for accommodation or modification is denied, notification will be made, and tenants shall have the right to grieve the denial in accordance with the BHA grievance procedure, while employees shall have the right to grieve in accordance with the BHA Personnel Policy.
Evaluation of Undue Burden
The BHA 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 BHA