18. What if a disability makes it hard for you to meet EOHLC rules or use EOHLCds services?
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires EOHLC to provide equal access to programs and services to qualified people with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12132.
Under the ADA, you are a person with a disability if you have a physical or mental disability that substantially impairs a major life activity, such as learning, understanding, walking, working, breathing, or caring for yourself. You do not have to be receiving any disability benefits to be qualified as disabled under the ADA. A temporary health problem like a broken leg may not be a disability under the ADA.
If a disability makes it hard for you to meet EOHLC rules or use EOHLC services, you can ask EOHLC and/or your shelter to grant exceptions to the rules or modify the services. These are called "reasonable modifications" or "reasonable accommodations" under the ADA.
Example 1: Because of your disability, you need extra time or help getting information to EOHLC. EOHLC should give you the extra time or help.
Example 2: You have trouble reading because of a learning disability. EOHLC and its providers should regularly explain the rules and notices to you and, if they did not explain a notice on a timely basis, give you more time to take action in response to it.
Example 3: You use a wheelchair. EOHLC should place you in a shelter where you can use your wheelchair, and the shelter should not make you do activities that you cannot do because of your disability.
Example 4: Your child has an anxiety disorder that makes it hard for him to be around other people. EOHLC should place you in a shelter where he does not have to be with many other people, such as a motel or a scattered site.
Example 5: You have a disability that prevents you from getting or keeping a job and, as a result, you have no money to save after paying for medicine, clothes and other basic needs. EOHLC should not terminate your shelter benefits if you cannot save 30% of your net income.
If you need special help or an exception to a rule because of a disability, you should tell your EOHLC worker or their supervisors. The worker should then fill out a form called a "Request for an ADA Accommodation." EOHLC may ask for a copy of medical records or other evidence of the disability or permission to contact a doctor or other professional who can verify your disability. You may also need for the doctor or other professional to document the connection between the disability and the special help or exception you are requesting.
- If you need special help or an exception to a rule because of a disability, be sure you or your EOHLC worker fills out a "Request for an ADA Accommodation" form or write a letter to EOHLC asking for the help you need. You can find a copy of the ADA Request form at www.masslegalservices.org/content/ada-accommodation-form-ea-dhcd. ADA requests can be sent directly to the ADA Coordinators by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by faxing it to (617) 573-1578
- Shelter providers are also required to make accommodations for your disability. Ask your shelter provider for reasonable accommodations or modifications as needed. Tell your EOHLC worker if you think the provider is wrongly denying your request and consult an advocate.