A lot of misunderstanding surrounds the need for a caregiver and the rights a disabled person has to access a caregiver as it relates to housing rights under the Fair Housing Act. As we always do here at Fair Housing Advocates, Inc., we will put away the legal speak and make best efforts to relay to our readers another important fair housing lesson, this time addressing the role of a Caregiver and the housing rights provided to a disabled person who would need access to a caregiver to enjoy the benefits of fair housing.
A caregiver, or “live-in aide” as HUD calls it is defined in the following way:
Live-in aide means a person who resides with one or more elderly persons, or near-elderly persons, or persons with disabilities, and who:
(1) Is determined to be essential to the care and well-being of the persons; (2) Is not obligated for the support of the persons; and (3) Would not be living in the unit except to provide the necessary supportive services.
A caregiver, however, does not always have to live with the disabled person, so there are those caregivers who are sometimes referred to as a visiting-aid, visiting caregiver, or even care attendant.
What’s important to know is that a live-in caregiver is “essential to the care and wellbeing” of the disabled person, and without the caregiver the disabled person might not survive, or their well-being would suffer because they would not be able to perform some of their daily life activities without the caregiver. So, a caregiver would be as necessary as a wheelchair to someone who could not use their legs.
For a housing provider, it’s about boundaries which seem to blur when a disabled resident requires another person to live with them in the unit, or a visiting caregiver makes daily visits and short stays in the disabled person’s unit but is not subjected to the same scrutiny the residents are.
The housing provider must recognize the need for a caregiver and provide any reasonable accommodation in their rules, polices, procedures, and services so the disabled person can enjoy the same housing rights non-disabled persons take for granted every day. And though a caregiver might not be a resident, how a housing provider treats a caregiver may have an effect upon the disabled person’s well-being and their housing rights.
Here are the top 10 most common fair housing violations relating to a disabled person’s need for a live-in or visiting caregiver. It is important to note that it does not usually matter if the community is an Assisted Living Facility, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or neither. The following are most likely fair housing violations:
- A housing provider charges more for a disabled person who will be requiring a visiting or live-in caregiver
- A caregiver is prohibited access to the laundry facility to do laundry on the disabled tenant’s behalf, or prohibited from accessing other facilities on the disabled person’s behalf
- A live-in caregiver is required to sign a lease as a lessee instead of an occupant
- A housing provider requires the disabled person to list the details of a person’s disability and the supportive services the caregiver would be providing, or requires the caregiver to provide a list of supportive services to be provided to the disabled person
- Prohibiting a caregiver, either as a live-in or visiting aide, from assisting the disabled resident just because the housing is not an “Assisted Living Facility” when the assistance is necessary
- A housing provider wants the right to choose a disabled resident’s caregiver, or requires the disabled person to choose from a list of “approved” caregiver organizations
- A housing provider refuses to permit a disabled resident, who has an immediate need for a caregiver, to hire the caregiver because the housing provider requires screening prior to any hiring
- A housing provider requires screening of visiting caregivers when there is no such screening for visiting workers of the other residents in the community
- A lease agreement requires that a tenant must move if they cannot live “independently” or need help with their daily living activities
- An ad marketing an “Independent Living facility” for “Active Seniors” would not consider an application from a disabled person requiring a caregiver, a wheelchair, or because they were not ambulatory
If you are disabled, or know someone who is disabled, and require a caregiver and believe you have been subjected to housing discrimination, or you need assistance to file a fair housing complaint, please reach Fair Housing Advocates, Inc.- we are a nonprofit civil rights organization and we will assist any person, regardless of their household income, for free. To learn more, see our website at www.fairhousingact.org , email us at email@example.com or call us at (877) 838-9963.