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Local woman says it took months to get ADA accommodations for rental assistance

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Nov 04, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa woman said it took months before someone helped her process a rental assistance application. She's visually impaired and asked several times for accommodations.

Since last November, Melyndalea Boardman and her husband have been dealing with a series of unfortunate events. They've both been sick, her husband has had extended hospital stays, and now they're both looking for work. So, paying rent has been tough.

"In July, we knew we were coming into a problem," Boardman said.

Their former landlord had been working with them, but he just sold his property to a new owner. Boardman met with him on Monday.

"Because we are two months behind on rent, he was very straightforward and said that if things don't change in the next 10 days, he was going to move forward with eviction," Boardman said.

She said she'd seen information about rental assistance resources on ABC Action News, and in July, contacted "Our Florida" by phone to see how she could fill out the online form.

For the past three years, she's been getting treatment for macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

"Bright white lights and lights from the computer, make it very hard for me to see what I'm doing," she said. "I had requested assistance with filling out the online application. And unfortunately, I kept getting the same response."

After unsuccessfully advocating for an alternative between this July and September, Boardman sent all her documents through the mail but ran into two problems.

"She told me that paper applications don't get processed," Boardman said.

Then Boardman showed us the address on the application.

"The zip code on the addresses is apparently incorrect. The zip code says 32301 in Tallahassee, but she said it was supposed to go 32399."

"Whatever the person is in need of, if it's a reasonable accommodation, it should be provided," Barb Page with Disability Rights Florida said.

For the past 20 years, Page has been working for the federally-supported organization as a senior advocate investigator. She takes on complaints to make sure state and private entities are ADA compliant.

She said if this happens to you, it's important to know your rights.

"It's important that each individual expresses how and what they need that specific to their disability. That's first and foremost," Page said. "It's their responsibility to request it and be very clear about what they need."

Page suggests reaching out to Disability Rights Florida if you're not getting accommodated according to ADA laws you can call them at 1-800-342-0823 or visit their website.

You can also file a complaint with the Department of Justice by calling 800-514-0301 or fill out online forms at www.justice.gov.