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Statement of Policy Objectives

Introduction

The Section 8 Program was enacted as part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which recodified the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. The Act has been amended from time to time, and its requirements, as they apply to the Section 8 Voucher Programs, is described in and implemented through this Administrative Plan. The Section 8 tenant-based assistance programs are federally funded and administered for the City of Omaha by the Omaha Housing Authority through its Section 8 housing office.

 

Administration of the Section 8 Program and the functions and responsibilities of the Housing Authority (OHA) staff shall be in compliance with the OHA Personnel Policy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 Regulations as well as all Federal, State and local Fair Housing Laws and Regulations.

 

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the OHA is the city of Omaha, Ralston, Papillion, LaVista, Millard, and the County of Douglas. Fair Housing Policy

It is the policy of the Housing Authority to comply fully with all Federal, State, and local nondiscrimination laws and with the rules and regulations governing Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in housing and employment.

 

The OHA shall not deny any family or individual the opportunity to apply for or receive assistance under the Section 8 Programs on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, age, family or marital status, handicap or disability, or sexual orientation.

 

To further its commitment to full compliance with applicable Civil Rights laws, the OHA will provide Federal/State/local information to Voucher holders regarding unlawful discrimination and any recourse available to families who believe they are victims of a discriminatory act. Such information will be made available during the family briefing session, and all applicable Fair Housing Information and Discrimination Complaint Forms will be made a part of the Voucher holder briefing packet and available upon request at the front desk.

 

All Housing Authority staff will be required to attend fair housing training and informed of the importance of affirmatively furthering fair housing and providing equal opportunity to all families, including providing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities, as a part of the overall commitment to quality customer service. Fair Housing posters are posted throughout the Housing Authority office/s, including in the lobby and interview rooms and the equal opportunity logo will be used on all outreach materials. Staff will attend local fair housing update training sponsored by HUD and other local organization to keep current with new developments.

 

Except as otherwise provided in 24 CFR 8.21(c)(1), 8.24(a), 8.25, and 8.31, no individual with disabilities shall be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination because the OHA facilities are inaccessible to or unusable by persons with disabilities. Posters and housing information are displayed in locations throughout the OHA office in such a manner as to be easily readable from a wheelchair.

 

The OHA office(s) are accessible to persons with disabilities. Accessibility for the hearing impaired is provided by the AT&T Operator Service for TTY at 1-800-855-1155 or Nebraska Relay System TTY is 1-800-833-7352 or Voice is 1-800-833-0920.

Reasonable Accomodations Policy

It is the policy of this OHA to be service-directed in the administration of our housing programs, and to exercise and demonstrate a high level of professionalism while providing housing services to families.

 

A participant with a disability must first ask for a specific change to a policy or practice as an accommodation of their disability before the OHA will treat a person differently than anyone else. The OHA’s policies and practices will be designed to provide assurances that persons with disabilities will be given reasonable accommodations, upon request, so that they may fully access and utilize the housing program and related services. The availability of requesting an accommodation will be made known by including notices on OHA forms and letters. This policy is intended to afford persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as those who do not have disabilities and is applicable to all situations described in this Administrative Plan including when a family initiates contact with the OHA, when the OHA initiates contact with a family including when a family applies, and when the OHA schedules or reschedules appointments of any kind.

 

To be eligible to request a reasonable accommodation, the requester must first certify (if apparent) or verify (if not apparent) that they are a person with a disability under the following ADA definition:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual;
  • A record of such impairment; or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment

Note: This is not the same as the HUD definition used for purposes of determining allowances.

 

Rehabilitated former drug users and alcoholics are covered under the ADA. However, a current drug user is not covered. In accordance with 5.403, individuals are not considered disabled for eligibility purposes solely on the basis of any drug or alcohol dependence. Individuals whose drug or alcohol addiction is a material factor to their disability are excluded from the definition. Individuals are considered disabled if disabling mental and physical limitations would persist if drug or alcohol abuse discontinued.

 

Once the person’s status as a qualified person with a disability is confirmed, the OHA will require that a professional third party competent to make the assessment provides written verification that the person needs the specific accommodation due to their disability and the change is required for them to have equal access to the housing program.

 

If the OHA finds that the requested accommodation creates an undue administrative or financial burden, the OHA will either deny the request and/or present an alternate accommodation that will still meet the need of the person.

 

An undue administrative burden is one that requires a fundamental alteration of the essential functions of the OHA (i.e., waiving a family obligation).

 

An undue financial burden is one that when considering the available resources of the agency as a whole, the requested accommodation would pose a severe financial hardship on the OHA.

The OHA will provide a written decision to the person requesting the accommodation within a reasonable time. If a person is denied the accommodation or feels that the alternative suggestions are inadequate, they may request an informal hearing to review the OHA’s decision.  

Reasonable accommodation will be made for persons with a disability that requires an advocate or accessible offices. A designee will be allowed to provide some information, but only with the permission of the person with the disability.

 

All OHA mailings will be made available in an accessible format upon request, as a reasonable accommodation.

Verification of Disability

The OHA will verify disabilities under definitions in the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act.
To provide specific accommodation to persons with disabilities, upon request, the information may be mailed to the applicant and, if requested, it will be mailed in an accessible format.

The full application will be completed and signed by the applicant. Verification of disability as it relates to 504, Fair Housing, or ADA reasonable accommodation will be requested at this time. The full application will also include questions asking all applications whether reasonable accommodations are necessary.

Family\Owner Outreach

The OHA will publicize and disseminate information to make known the availability of housing assistance and related services for very low-income families on a regular basis. When the OHA waiting list is open, the OHA will publicize the availability and nature of housing assistance for very low-income families in a newspaper of general circulation, minority media, and by other suitable means. Notices will also be provided in Spanish.

 

To reach persons who cannot read the newspaper, the OHA will distribute fact sheets to the broadcasting media, and initiate personal contacts with members of the news media and community service personnel. The OHA will also utilize public service announcements.

 

The OHA encourages owners of decent, safe and sanitary housing units to lease to Section 8 families. A free service to list and find rental housing and services in Nebraska is now available at www.housing.NE.gov. You can list and manage properties with a toll-free phone call or via the Web site. You can register by phone at 1-877-428-8844.

The Housing Authority will print lists by bedroom sizes weekly within the Housing Authority jurisdiction to ensure greater mobility and housing choice to very low-income households. The lists will be provided at the front desk/mailed on request and provided at briefings.

 

The staff of the OHA initiates personal contact with private property owners and managers by conducting formal and informal discussions and meetings.

 

Printed material is offered to acquaint owners and managers with the opportunities available under the program.

 

The OHA has active participation in community-based organization(s) comprised of private property and apartment owners and managers.

 

The OHA encourages program participation by owners of units located outside areas of poverty or minority concentration. The OHA periodically evaluates the demographic distribution of assisted families to identify areas within the jurisdiction where owner outreach should be targeted. The purpose of these activities is to provide more choices and better housing opportunities to families. Voucher holders are informed of the full range of areas where they may lease units inside the OHA’s jurisdiction and given a list of landlords or other parties who are willing to lease units or help families who desire to live outside areas of poverty or minority concentration.

 

The OHA conducts semi-annual meetings with participating owners to improve owner relations and to recruit new owners.