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Section 504 Complaint Process
The following is an overview of how HUD processes complaints filed by individuals who have experienced disability discrimination under the law called Section 504. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects you from discrimination in HUD-funded programs for which you qualify, and is commonly called "Section 504." This overview of the Section 504 complaint process contains citations to 24 CFR 8.1-8.58. These are references to specific sections of the Code of Federal Regulations that contain HUD's regulations for Section 504. These HUD regulations set forth more specific rules with respect to how Section 504 applies to various HUD-assisted programs.
What is a Complaint?
A complaint is a communication alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and in some way asking for HUD's assistance in resolving the problem. It may range from a verbal communication (which is later put in writing) to a complaint submitted on either the old HUD-903 Complaint Form, or on the new HUD Housing Discrimination Information Form. The complaint should contain:
The complaint may be amended fairly and reasonably at any time to clarify or amplify the allegation. [24 CFR 8.56(c)(6)]
Although a complaint will contain the name of the complainant, HUD will keep the identity of the complainant confidential unless it has written authorization from the complainant to release it, or except as necessary to carry out the purpose of the Section 504 regulations, including the enforcement provisions. [(24 CFR 8.56(c)(2)]
When Must a Complaint be Filed?
Under Section 504, a complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination unless HUD waives this time limit for good cause shown. The complaint is deemed received on the date HUD actually receives it or, if mailed, on the date it is postmarked. [24 CFR 8.56(c)(3)]
Who May File a Complaint?
Any individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of disability by a recipient of Federal financial assistance, his or her representative, or a member of a class of persons so situated, or the authorized representative of a member of that class. [24 CFR 8.56(c)(1)]
Key Provisions And Regulations Implementing Section 504 Of The Rehabilitation Act
Title V Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides for nondiscrimination in all programs, services and activities receiving federal financial assistance; and in programs, services and activities conducted by Executive agencies.
This section focuses on Section 504, and on HUD’s regulations implementing Section 504 in federally assisted programs services and activities. These regulations are codified at 24 CFR Part 8.
Section 504 states:
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program, service or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.”
HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR Part 8 apply to all applicants for, and recipients of, HUD financial assistance in the operation of programs or activities receiving such assistance.
Individual with Disabilities Defined
HUD’s Section 504 regulations define an individual with a disability as any person who has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment [24 CFR 8.3]. Major life activities include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning, performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself. The law also applies to individuals who have a history of such impairments as well as those who are perceived as having such impairment.
A person who meets the above definition, and who is otherwise qualified for the program, service or activity, is covered under Section 504. To be otherwise qualified means the individual meets the essential eligibility requirements, including, for example, requirements for tenancy, if the program is a housing program.
The regulations define “recipient” as any state or its political subdivision, any instrumentality of a State or its political subdivision, any public or private agency, institution, organization, or other entity, or any person to which federal financial assistance is extended for any program or activity directly or through another recipient, including any successor, assignee, or transferee of a recipient, but excluding the ultimate beneficiary of the assistance. An entity or person receiving housing assistance payments from a recipient on behalf of eligible families under a housing assistance payments program or a voucher program is not a recipient or sub-recipient merely by virtue of receipt of such payments.