Some people with disabilities require service animals that are trained to help make their life easier. Part of the Housing and Urban Development Department’s (HUD) purpose is to aid those suffering from mental or physical impairments. A way the HUD supports disabled people is by permitting emotional support animals, or ESAs, into the dwellings under Section 8 Housing.
Is an Emotional Support Animal a Pet?
An assistance animal is not a pet. There are several reasons that a person with a disability may need an assistance animal in their home, as ESAs may serve a variety of functions, including emotional support that helps to alleviate the effects of a disability. Typically, residents can only have one animal assigned to help a specific disability.
Service Animals vs. ESAs
Emotional support animals provide relief to individuals with mental disabilities through companionship. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) encompasses animals of all species, though ESAs are to be animals typically kept inside the home. Service animals perform specific tasks, like navigation, pulling a wheelchair, or helping to control a seizure. They are well-trained, although the ADA does not require them to be professionally trained.
Any animal that provides support, comfort, or aid to an individual may be regarded as an emotional support animal simply by providing therapeutic support to an individual’s mental state.
Requesting an ESA in Section 8 Housing
Applicants or residents in Section 8 Housing with a disability can submit a request for reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal if their animal is otherwise restricted. In order to create equal opportunity, housing providers cannot refuse to make these reasonable accommodations. This is thanks to the Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act joint statement from HUD and the Department of Justice dated 2004 that prohibits discrimination by refusing emotional support animals.
Typically, emotional support animals are kept inside the home. And because they have a medical need, the housing managers can’t charge any fees or deposits for assistance animals. This is because, according to a medical professional (or another reliable third party), the tenant requires their animal in order to have equal use and enjoyment of their home.
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