Fair Housing Department
Equal housing opportunity for all persons, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, familial status, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, military status or disability, is a fundamental policy of the CHA. The CHA is committed to diligence in assuring equal housing opportunity and non-discrimination in all aspects of its housing activities. The CHA has embraced an ethical as well as legal imperative to aggressively ensure that the CHA’s housing programs comply fully with all local, state and federal fair housing laws including, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (Fair Housing Act) and its implementing regulations as well as the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and the Illinois Safe Homes Act. In addition, The CHA follows federal regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (504).
Jessica Mallon, Fair Housing Director/ADA Coordinator
Fair Housing Hotline
Brian Barnes| Accessibility Specialist I, Capital Construction
Reasonable Accommodation Request
The CHA does not discriminate against persons with disabilities. In order to ensure that equal treatment is afforded to those with disabilities, the CHA provides equal access to its programs and services. It also provides the opportunity for applicants and residents to request reasonable accommodations at any time, from application through termination, to those with qualified disabilities. The CHA utilizes two different definitions of disability: there is a HUD definition that is used for income rent calculations and eligibility determinations as well as a broader Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Fair Housing Act (FHA) definition that is used for reasonable accommodation purposes.
1. HUD Definition of Disability: The person meets the Social Security Administration definition of a person with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. 423 or the person has a physical, mental, or emotional impairment that:
- a) Is expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration;
- b) Substantially impedes their ability to live independently; and
- c) Is of such a nature that the ability to live independently could be improved by more suitable living conditions.
- d) Has a developmental disability as defined in 42 U.S.C. 6001
2. ADA/FHA Definition of Disability (24 CFR Parts 8.3 and 100.201): In order to be considered disabled under this provision, the person must:
- a) Have a physical, mental or emotional impairment that substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life activities;
- b) Have a record of such an impairment; or
- c) Be regarded as having such an impairment.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or change the CHA can make to its policies or procedures that will assist an otherwise qualified applicant or participant with a disability to take full advantage of and use CHA programs, including those that are operated by other agencies in CHA-owned public space.
The types of reasonable accommodations the CHA can provide include changes, exceptions or adjustments to a rule, policy, practice or service. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Permitting applications and re-examinations to be completed by mail;
- Providing, upon request, alternative formats for persons with visual or hearing impairments, such as large print documents and sign language interpretation;
- Approving the need for a live-in aide;
- Extending the time necessary to acquire documents and otherwise participate in the regular re-examination process;
- Using higher payment standards if the CHA determines this is necessary to enable a person with disabilities to obtain a suitable housing unit;
- Providing time (voucher) extensions for locating a unit when necessary because of lack of availability of accessible units or special challenges of the family in seeking a unit; and
To request an accommodation, you may download the CHA’s Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form or you may contact a customer service representative in the CHA Customer Call Center at 312-935-2600 (TTY: 312-461-0079).
Once you submit a request to CHA, the request will be reviewed and a decision will be rendered within 30 days. If additional information is required or information essential to a decision being made is missing from the form, it will take additional time to come to a decision and you may be contacted to provide the necessary information. Such information may include certification from a knowledgeable professional (i.e. physician, nurse, psychiatrist, etc.). Requests that are approved will need to be recertified during each regular Re-Examination. CHA is required to consider requests but is not obligated to approve every request. All requests for reasonable accommodation must be directly related to the disability and must not cause the CHA to violate any Program regulations nor impose a financial burden on the CHA.
Can I request a reasonable accommodation from my property owner or manager?
Property owners and managers are covered by some of the same laws that CHA abides by, so they also must consider reasonable accommodation requests. Property owners may have different processes for considering requests — some may only need you to verbally ask, while others may want your request in writing. Either way, they must consider your request for accommodations even if you do not “look like” you have a disability.
Some reasonable accommodations you may require include:
- Additional time to submit a rental application.
- The ability to pay your rent by mail.
- A waiver of a “No Pet” policy so that you may have your service animal live with you.
- Allowing an additional bedroom for a live-in aide.
To meet the needs of persons with hearing impairments, TTD/TTY (text telephone display / teletype) communication will be available. (ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FORTH COMING)
To meet the needs of persons with vision impairments, large-print and audio versions of key program documents will be made available upon request. When visual aids are used in public meetings or presentations, or in meetings with CHA staff, one-on-one assistance will be provided upon request.
Additional examples of alternative forms of communication are sign language interpretation; having material explained orally by staff; or having a third-party representative (a friend, relative or advocate, named by the applicant) to receive, interpret and explain housing materials and be present at all meetings. (ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FORTH COMING)
Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency
Language for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Persons can be a barrier to accessing important benefits or services, understanding and exercising important rights, complying with applicable responsibilities, or understanding other information provided by the HCV program. Policies and procedures related to ensuring that LEP persons have meaningful access to CHA’s programs and services can be found in the Language Access Policy and Procedures document.
CHA has partnered with the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to offer HCV participants with a verifiable disability the opportunity to receive home accessibility modifications to make their current or soon-to-be home more accessible, free of charge. Modifications can include, but are not limited to: ramps, porch or stair lifts, widened doorways, accessible sinks or cabinets, roll-in showers, grab bars or grab rails, zero-step entry or room transitions. While multiple modifications can be requested per project, funding is capped at $10,000 per project. Modifications are completed by licensed, insured and experienced home remodeling companies.
To apply for a modification, HCV participants must first submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodation. For more information about the Modification Fund, please see the HomeMod Fund Flyer, call 312-913-7062 or email email@example.com.
Exception Payment Standards for Accessible Units
In an effort to expand housing opportunities for HCV participants with disabilities, CHA has implemented an Exception Payment Standard policy for accessible units. An Exception Payment Standard is an increased amount of subsidy (up to 250%), which offers HCV participants, who meet specific criteria, the opportunity to rent units previously outside of their affordability range. To apply for a Change in the Payment Standard, HCV participants must first submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodation. For more information about the Exception Payment Standards, please see the Exception Payment Standards Flyer, call 312-913-7062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Housing Locator provides assistance to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Participants with disabilities locate accessible housing in the City of Chicago. The Housing Locator will conduct outreach to landlords, property management companies and explore on-line housing resources to connect participants with suitable, accessible housing.
Please contact Housing Locator for assistance at email@example.com
Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law that protects victims (both men and women) of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking who apply for or live in private housing with a voucher. The law covers the head of household and authorized affiliated individuals living in the household. In Illinois, victims of domestic violence are also covered by the Safe Homes Act.
Protections for Victims Who Are Applicants or Participants
- CHA may not deny admission to the HCV Program if a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking can show that the reason for the denial is connected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- If the participant or an affiliated individual is the victim of criminal activity related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, the activity cannot be cause for terminating assistance, tenancy or occupancy rights.
- If a domestic violence victim leaves the unit because of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, CHA will not consider him/her in violation of the lease or HCV Program requirements.
- CHA can ‘split’ the family by terminating the abuser from the HCV Program while protecting the victim and other household members. The abuser will NOT be issued a separate voucher.
- If the CHA terminates assistance to an individual because of criminal acts of violence against family members or others, and that individual is the only tenant eligible to receive the housing assistance, then any remaining tenant will have the opportunity to establish eligibility for the assistance. If no tenant can establish such eligibility, then the CHA, property owner or manager must provide the tenant reasonable time (as determined by the respective federal agency) to find new housing or to establish eligibility under another covered housing program.
Limitations of VAWA Protections
- CHA has the authority to terminate any participant, including the victim, if it can demonstrate a threat to other tenants or to staff.
- CHA can terminate a participant for any violation of a lease that was not based on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Options Available to VAWA Victims
Bifurcate (Split) the Lease and Voucher
CHA may terminate the abuser and allow the victim to stay on the HCV Program. The property owner/manager will also evict the abuser and allow the victim to stay in the unit.
However, in order for this action to take place, the victim must provide documentation of the abuse to CHA and the property owner/manager. The CHA must follow the termination procedure in order to terminate the abuser from the HCV Program. The voucher is not automatically assigned to the victim upon submission of domestic violence documentation.
For more information about VAWA, please see the Participant Guide.
Grievance Procedure (ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FORTH COMING)