[Community-service] blind people and homeless shelters

Reyazuddin, Yasmin Yasmin.Reyazuddin at montgomerycountymd.gov
Fri May 17 09:15:57 CDT 2013

Hi Julie and others, 
The topic is interesting enough that I have to make a comment about it. 
Homeless shelters or emergency shelters, should be open to all people regardless of their physical condition. I have reviewed policies regarding this matter as they were prepared for DOJ review. My job is to review the accessibility of such documents and I remember that the shelters are required to be available. 
At the same time, some people may be allergic to animals and we have to be careful. In such cases, the individual as well the animal need to be placed in housing in a different location. Some homeless shelters or the social services offices have contracts with cheap hotels or motels in the area to house people with special needs. 
Many times we hear that someone was refused but we may not know the full story. We can not come to any conclusion without knowing the circumstances. 

Yasmin Reyazuddin 
Aging & Disability Services 
Montgomery County Government 
Department of Health & Human Services 
401 Hungerford Drive (3rd floor) 
Rockville MD 20850 
240-777-0311 (MC311) 
240-777-1556 (personal) 
240-777-1495 (fax) 
office hours 8:30 am 5:00 pm 
Languages English, Hindi, Urdu, Braille 

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Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: Community-service [mailto:community-service-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Julie McGinnity
Sent: Friday, May 17, 2013 9:52 AM
To: Community Service Discussion List
Subject: [Community-service] blind people and homeless shelters

Hi all,

I received this article on the nagdu(national association of Guide dog
Users) listserve and thought the topic would be something interesting
to discuss.  This article talks about a blind man who was refused at a
homeless shelter with his guide dog, but it started a discussion about
blind people in general being turned away from homeless shelters.  I'm
simply curious about this topic.  Have any of you worked at homeless
shelters, or do any of you know about shelters with policies
prohibiting blind people from staying in them?  Hopefully this is on
topic...  :)

 Subject: homeless shelter refuses to accept blind man with his dog guide

 (Source: HUD) -- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) announced today that it is charging City Rescue Mission of New
Castle (CRM) and one of its employees with refusing to accept a blind
man and his guide dog at a homeless shelter in New Castle, PA.
 HUD's investigation found that CRM denied a reasonable accommodation
request to allow the man to keep his dog in the shelter, in violation
of the Fair Housing Act.
 The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable
accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, or services when
needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to
use or enjoy a dwelling.
 "For many people with disabilities, guide dogs and other assistance
animals are necessities, not options," stated John Trasviña, HUD
Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will
enforce Fair Housing Act protections to ensure that housing providers
grant reasonable accommodation requests."
 According to HUD's charge, a blind, homeless individual contacted CRM
in order to seek shelter. HUD's charge alleges that a CRM employee
informed the man that he could not move into the shelter with his
guide dog even after the man said that he could not be without his
service animal.
 When a caseworker from Lawrence County Community Action, an
organization that assists low-income people, contacted the shelter and
explained that the man needed the guide dog because of his disability,
the CRM employee again refused, saying that the dog would have to go
 HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law
Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in
federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a
hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to
aggrieved persons for the damages caused them by the discrimination.
 The judge may also order
 injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further
discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees.
 In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the
public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge
may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.
 Persons who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation
request may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair
Housing and Equal Opportunity at
 (800) 669-9777 (voice)
 or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
 Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to
 or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile
application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the
iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Julie McG
National Association of Guide dog Users board member,  National
Federation of the Blind performing arts division secretary,
Missouri Association of Guide dog Users President,
and Guiding Eyes for the Blind graduate 2008
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal
John 3:16

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