NYLPI’s Healthy Homes program aims to help New York residents who have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory conditions, by equipping them with the tools necessary to enforce their right to a home that is free from asthma triggers. Asthma is a leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalization and missed school days in NYC’s poorest neighborhoods. We provide trainings to organizers and tenants on the right to a healthy home, legal support to community-based organizations seeking new ways to prevent asthma attacks in their neighborhoods, and direct assistance to tenants with breathing difficulties who need mold or other hazards removed from their homes.
If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to breathe (such as asthma or COPD), your landlord may be required to make sure your apartment is free from mold, mildew, mice/rats, and cockroaches.
If you have any of these conditions in your home, you can ask your landlord for a “reasonable accommodation”—a change in the landlord’s policies to make you able to live in your apartment without risking your health.
If you are a tenant in public housing (a building owned by NYCHA), you should fill out two forms: “Disability Status and Notice of Reasonable Accommodations Request” (#040.422) and “Reasonable Accommodation Request-Disability Verification” (#040.426). Then, take the second form to your doctor or other healthcare provider along with NYLPI’s “Tips for Medical Providers – NYCHA Mold,” and ask them to write a letter explaining your breathing problem and how it is impacted by the conditions in your apartment. File the two forms and the doctor’s note with your property’s management office, and if possible, get a copy for yourself marked with the date received, so you can prove when you submitted it. You may find it helpful to print out our pamphlet, “Breathing Easier at Home,” which has more detailed instructions and a handy checklist.
If you are a tenant in private housing (including Section 8 recipients), you should write a letter to your landlord or the company that manages your building explaining your breathing difficulty and what actions you need them to take to make your apartment safe for you. Bring NYLPI’s “Tips for Medical Providers – Reasonable Accommodations” to your doctor or other healthcare provider, and ask them to write a letter explaining your condition and how it is impacted by the conditions in your apartment. Send the letter by certified mail so that you know that they’ve received it. If you live in private housing, have mold, and have asthma or a family member with asthma, we’d love to hear your story. Give us a call at (212) 244-4664, ext. 309.
For more information on how to protect your right to a healthy home, check out the slides for “Better Bronx Housing,” a joint workshop run by NYLPI and MFY Legal Services. And keep an eye out for one of our workshop sessions in your neighborhood!
Resources for New Yorkers:
Resources for all tenants
Tips for Medical Providers – Reasonable Accommodations: A short list of things to keep in mind for doctors or other medical providers who are writing a letter to support a tenant’s request for any reasonable accommodation of their disability.
Better Bronx Housing Workshop slides: The PowerPoint slides from a workshop that NYLPI and MFY Legal Services run occasionally in the Bronx. The workshop aims to provide tenants with the information they need both to spot health hazards in the home and to enforce their right to safe housing.
“Getting Housing Repairs in New York” (Spanish subtitles; Simplified Chinese subtitles): A video from LawHelp NY explaining the basic steps you can take to get your landlord to repair your apartment: calling 311, contacting your landlord, and filing an HP action. Note that NYCHA tenants should call (718) 707-7771 instead of 311.
Auto-Filled HP Forms: Also from LawHelp NY, this interactive form will provide you with all the papers necessary to file an HP action on your own. Answer a set of simple questions, and this online service will automatically fill in the necessary information and explain where to send each document.
Resources for NYCHA tenants
About Baez: A short description of the settlement from the class action lawsuit, Baez v. NYCHA, which changed NYCHA policy with regard to mold and excessive moisture in their properties.
Reasonable Accommodations Request – Disability Verification (form #040.426): A form for NYCHA tenants to authorize their healthcare provider to release information about their medical condition to NYCHA. This form is not necessary to request a reasonable accommodation, but it provides an easy way to get a doctor’s note supporting your request.
Disability Status and Notice of Reasonable Accommodations Request (form #040.422): A form for NYCHA tenants to use when requesting reasonable accommodations. This form is not necessary to request a reasonable accommodation—you can also write a standard letter instead of or in addition to the form.
Breathing Easier at Home: A checklist for NYCHA residents who have mold in their apartment and who have asthma, or have a family member with asthma.
Tips for Medical Providers – NYCHA Mold: A short list of things to keep in mind for doctors or other medical providers who are writing a letter to support a NYCHA tenant’s request for mold remediation or transfer out of a mold-affected apartment.
Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Tenants, Housing Applicants, and Section 8 Voucher Holders (form #036.041): This explains NYCHA’s policy for accommodating tenant’s disabilities, and how tenants can submit a request for accommodation. The potential accommodations listed here are not the only ones that you can get, they are only examples—so if you need something that is not on their list, ask for it anyway.