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NYSDOH Clarifies Rules Regarding Fair Housing Rights of Persons With Disabilities in Adult Care Facilities

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

May 1, 2023


After issuing new admission and retention regulations in response to a lawsuit filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), the New York State Department of Health has followed up with a new set of “Dear Administrator Letters” (DALs) addressed to adult care and assisted living facilities.

The new state regulations, announced on February 22, were initially published to address decades of discrimination against current and prospective residents at DOH facilities who use wheelchairs. The DALs provide guidance to adult care facilities and explain the changes facilities  should implement to their admission and retention practices, in line with the new regulations. In particular, DAL# DACF 23-15 explains that individuals with mobility impairments have the right to access adult care facility programs, and that reasonable accommodations can and should be made for individuals with disabilities.

The FHJC contributed significantly to the DALs, including by issuing a four-page guidance document on fair housing laws and reasonable accommodations/modifications as they pertain to adult care facilities. This document is attached, along with several other documents, to the DAL packet that adult care facilities will receive.

The DAL further advises that all ACFs should:

  • adopt a non-discrimination statement;
  • adopt a reasonable accommodation policy; and
  • post a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development poster in a common area at their facility.

The litigation that led to these important changes was brought five years ago in response to widespread discrimination against people who use wheelchairs seeking residence in assisted living and other state-licensed adult care facilities. The FHJC is represented by the AARP Foundation, Mobilization for Justice, and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in this ongoing lawsuit.

The FHJC serves all five boroughs of New York City and the seven surrounding counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.

New York residents in the above referenced service area that have been denied residency at an assisted living or other Adult Care Facility because of wheelchair use or mobility status are encouraged to file a complaint by calling the FHJC at 212-400-8201 or filling out its online form found at https://bit.ly/FHJCreport. New York residents can also report discrimination directly to DOH by calling 1-866-893-6772.

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.