County Board support helps woman realize dream of independent living2020 Photo- Auto Door Use

Latisha realized a long-standing dream in April 2019 when she moved into her own apartment. When she signed her lease, she realized it would be difficult to reach and turn the door handle and at the same time push the door open, given her use of a powered wheelchair, as doing so could result in potential damage to both the door and her chair.

She submitted a Reasonable Accommodation Request for an automatic opener for the door to her apartment, but received a denial from the apartment complex ownership in July 2019. Jennifer McGlaughlin and Mindy Warner, from Latisha’s provider, Choices in Community Living, and her SSA, Lisa Bluhm, met with the complex manager to discuss the situation further, and helped her submit a second Reasonable Accommodation Request. 

After receiving a second denial for the automatic door opener in September 2019, Latisha was determined to make her dream of community living a reality, and decided to appeal the owners' decision. She and her team prepared an appeal packet and submitted it to the property ownership in September. They also denied this third appeal in October 2019.

Latisha's SSA, Lisa, contacted the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) regarding the case. MVFHC reviewed the case information and offered to assist Latisha in advocating for her right to accessibility while residing in the community. MVFHC submitted a complaint on Latisha’s behalf to complex ownership in December 2019, which led to a mediation process in March 2020 between Latisha/MVFHC and property ownership. MCBDDS and Choices were on hand to support this effort.

Latisha’s determination and self-advocacy, and the support she received from MCBDDS, MVFHC and Choices, led the owners to install an automatic door opener for her in July 2020. This victory was a win for Latisha as well as others residing at the apartment complex. The owners are also installing automatic door openers on doors leading to other common areas in the complex, allowing her full access to all the amenities on the property.

"The process was lengthy, but the end result was worth it, because it allowed Latisha to finally realize her dream of living independently," Lisa said.