You seem to have had an issue loading this page or you have javascript disabled, which may cause problems while using Change.org. To avoid any further inconvenience, please enable javascript in your browser and refresh this page.
Bellingham Housing Authority: Stop denying housing for a disabled woman soon to be homeless
  • Petitioned Public Housing’s Customer Service

This petition was delivered to:

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Public Housing’s Customer Service
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity - U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
John Trasvina
Bellingham Housing Authority
Jim DeGolier
U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
PH Revitalization Specialist, HUD
Ann Becker
Director, Office of Public Housing, HUD
Harlan Stewart

Bellingham Housing Authority: Stop denying housing for a disabled woman soon to be homeless

    1. Roberta Fargo
    2. Petition by

      Roberta Fargo

      Bellingham, WA

No one should have to suffer loss of home due to illness, much less “live” in a car. No one should be denied housing assistance because they have a disability. And yet that is what has happened to me (and many others).

I have multiple chronic illnesses, including PTSD and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), the latter of which affects multiple organ systems, including respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and nervous. I suffer chronic joint and muscle pain, severe food sensitivities that have damaged my digestive tract, moderate to disabling fatigue, migraines and vertigo, cognitive decline that affects my memory, perception, speech, concentration, and ability to learn new things, as well as other symptoms too many to list.

HUD states that they recognize and support accommodations for MCS - 


- yet the Bellingham Housing Authority who is supposed to abide by HUD standards, has denied me a housing voucher that accommodates my medical needs.

I have been denied rental assistance because I could not find a residence that both met their rental price requirements and my medical needs. I currently reside in a mobile home that meets most of my health needs, however the local housing agency, the Bellingham Housing Authority (BHA), said I could not remain here because HUD’s requirements do not make allowances for my particular illness – a direct contradiction to HUD's statements that support this illness. The only types of residences that fall within their (BHA's) price range are apartments or similar complexes. Due to my high sensitivity to chemicals (which includes smoke, fragrances in body products, air fresheners, bug sprays, paints and solvents, laundry fumes, etc.), it is impossible for me to even go into an apartment building, much less live in one. To do so would mean my speedy demise.

Despite this information and letters from my doctors, the Bellingham Housing Authority refused to accommodate me, even when I offered to accept just the minimum amount they were allowing. They said that I would be unable to afford to stay where I was on that amount; despite my explanation that I did not need much assistance to maintain housing. It’s odd they thought that this allowance was worse than denying me any assistance at all.

From other stories I’ve heard, this type of denial by the BHA is not an uncommon occurrence. People with disabilities are not given the consideration they need when applying for housing assistance.

Disabled people often have an even greater disadvantage when it comes to maintaining housing and in many cases, to finding appropriate housing to accommodate their medical needs. One way to help resolve the homeless problem is to fix the biases and flaws in the agencies that have been created to help people maintain housing. 

Please sign my petition to make the Bellingham Housing Authority do what they were created to do: to help people maintain housing. Specifically, to help me with rental costs so I don’t have to lose a roof over my head, my belongings, and my sense of self-worth; so I don’t have to try to survive in my car with all my health problems; and to make them change their policies regarding the disabled. Make them honor HUD's promise to accommodate people with disabilities. 

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 3,000 signatures
    2. Justice Department Settles Disability Discrimination Case ...

      Roberta Fargo
      Petition Organizer

      Here is another case where HUD supports compliance with the Fair Housing Act when it involves someone else having to do the complying. In this lawsuit (see link below), John Trasvina (HUD's Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity) makes this statement, “HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring that housing providers grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations.”



      Roberta Fargo
      Petition Organizer

      In some cases, HUD seems willing to support the enforcement of accommodations for the disabled when it is another person or organization that is being required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, however doesn't seem willing to do it when it comes to their own assistance program.
      In this lawsuit (see link below), John Trasvina of HUD made this statement, “Persons with disabilities aren’t asking for special treatment when they request reasonable accommodations, ... HUD is committed to ensuring that housing providers, federally-assisted and otherwise, live up to their obligation to grant reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities when they are needed.” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.


    4. Reached 2,000 signatures
    5. HUD's Written Position on MCS as a Disability - no. 4

      Roberta Fargo
      Petition Organizer
      The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation - Raising public awareness about multiple chemical sensitivity

      The World Trade Center attack produced chemical exposures of almost unprecedented magnitude. Photo courtesy of Don Shapiro, Healthy Housing Coalition. The primary goal of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, is to raise public awareness about multiple chemical sensitivity.

    6. HUD's Written Position on MCS as a Disability - no. 3

      Roberta Fargo
      Petition Organizer
      Examples of Recognition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by US Federal Government Authorities

      Adapted from Recognition of MCS by Albert Donnay, August 1998 edition. [The "R" numbers in parentheses refer to original reference documents available upon request from MCS Referral & Resources, 410-889-6666] ... in a unanimously adopted recommendation of the ATSDR's Board of Scientific Counsellors, which calls on the ATSDR to "take a leadership role in the investigation of MCS" [1994, R-1].

    7. HUD's Written Position on MCS as a Disability

      Roberta Fargo
      Petition Organizer
      MEEB / Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Creates Newest Trigger for Fair Housing Accommodation Requests

      Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Creates Newest Trigger for Fair Housing Accommodation RequestsMar 20, 2009 By Therese Quijano Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - MCS - though still a relatively new and often questioned medical diagnosis, is surfacing with increasing frequency in requests from apartment tenants and condominium owners seeking "accommodations" under fair housing laws.

    8. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Rena Goichberg PHOENIX, AZ
      • 9 months ago

      I too suffer with severe MCS

    • bettie martin NOOKSACK, WA
      • 11 months ago

      ill and disabled homeless daughter

    • Barbara Gierke EVERSON, WA
      • 11 months ago

      I have a sister who is going through this right now.,she has even ended up in hospital with pneumonia due to sleeping in her car, she has to electrical devices she is to use but can't because she sleeps in her car..

    • Juli Martin BELLINGHAM, WA
      • 11 months ago

      This is important to me because I myself and Disabled & Homeless & living in my car with my 2 daughters. I have been to and completed almost every single option open to me but cannot rent because due to a past eviction during the separation of my marriage .. I am not eligible for housing even tho my rental references are wonderful. I know right where this woman has been and yes, no one should have to live like that/this.

    • Diane Crouch ROLLA, MO
      • about 1 year ago

      why not?


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.