Cardozo Law School legal clinic is looking for NYCHA/Section 8 tenants with cognitive impairments who've had problems re-certifying

September 17, 2015


Dear Friends,

I am writing to pass along a query from Lezlie Salzman, the director of Cardozo Law School's Clinical Legal Education program, about cognitively-impaired people in NYCHA housing or with a Section 8 subsidy who have had difficulty re-certifying, or have been unable to re-certify, because of their impairments. Ms. Salzman and her colleagues have encountered several cases where NYCHA has been unwilling to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with cognitive impairments in the public housing and section 8 application and re-certification processes.

For example, when a client with a cognitive impairment could not sign an income verification form for re-certification of her Section 8 benefits, NYCHA terminated her Section 8 benefits, informing her family that their only option was to seek appointment of a guardian.  In another case, a NYCHA tenant with severe dementia lacked the capacity to sign the annual recertification documents.  For several years, NYCHA allowed her daughter, with whom she lived, to sign the recertification documents on her mother’s behalf.  This year, NYCHA said they would not permit the daughter to recertify the tenant without a power of attorney (which her mother could not execute) or a guardianship commission.  
Ms. Salzman and her colleagues are trying to determine how widespread this problem is and whether others have encountered issues with NYCHA’s failure to accommodate cognitive (or other) impairments in the public housing and Section 8 programs.  They have been discussing this problem with NYCHA and are looking for other specific examples. 

If you have encountered a similar problem, please contact me, and I'll pass the information along.

All the best,