Updated: May 27
By Leona Rollins, Director of Investigations
The Housing Rights Center (HRC) recently received a mental disability complaint from the city of Ventura. The complainants were single, Caucasian males with developmental disabilities which necessitated twenty-four (24) medical attention and care. The complainants' primary source of income was permanent disability benefits which they did not receive until the third of the month. With the complainants not receiving their permanent disability benefits until the 3rd of the month, the complainants were unable to tender their respective rental payments by the date outlined in their lease agreement. In early April 2020, the complainants contacted the HRC for assistance in requesting a reasonable accommodation to specifically change their rental due date from the first of the month to the fifth of the month based on their disabilities.
After receiving their complaint, one of the HRC's trained Case Analyst, Srinitha Dasari sent a letter to the landlord providing information on the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and outlining the complainants' request for a reasonable accommodation. Within a few days, Ms. Dasari and the HRC received a letter from the landlord agreeing to grant the complainants' request for a reasonable accommodation. However, a tragic event would not only change the lives of the complainants but would require that Ms. Dasari and the HRC go the extra mile to truly assist the complainants with their housing needs. In mid-April 2020, Ms. Dasari and the HRC received heartbreaking news from one of the complainants' social workers stating that one of the complainants had unfortunately passed away.
With the sudden passing of one of the complainants, the remaining complainant did not have the financial means and resources to continue living at the property as a long-term tenant and faced an imminent threat of homelessness during one of the worst global pandemics in recent history. Ms. Dasari and the HRC recognized that it would be incredibly difficult for the complainant to secure housing that would accommodate him and his disabilities while adjusting to life without his dear friend and roommate. Ms. Dasari sent a follow up letter to the owner requesting that they grant a second reasonable accommodation for the complainant by deducting half of the complainant's monthly rent from the complainants' security deposit which would afford the complainant and his social workers time to find and secure alternative housing for him.
Within a few hours, Ms. Dasari and the HRC received confirmation that the landlord would be granting the complainant's request for a reasonable accommodation. During this challenging and difficult time for so many individuals and families, the HRC's Investigations Department recognizes the importance of always going the extra mile for our clients because no one should have to face the threat of possible homelessness after suffering such a devastating loss.