Hartford apartment complex refuses to build wheelchair ramp

A Hartford mother is asking for a ramp at her apartment building to make it easier to transport her daughter. (WFSB)

A Hartford mother is pleading with her property manager to build a ramp at her apartment complex for her wheelchair-bound daughter.

Without a ramp, she is forced to physically carry her child in and out of the complex anytime they need to go somewhere.

"It's a lot of work, but it's my daughter. I love her,” said Ana Hernandez, who left work more than 10 years ago to take care of her daughter, Viviana, full-time.

The 14-year-old has Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and Autism.

"I have to feed her, I have to dress her, take her to shower, everything. I have to do everything for her,” Hernandez said.

The family moved in to their apartment in Hartford two years ago, and while their apartment is on the first floor, they still have to make their way up a few stairs, just to access their unit, which is not easy for Viviana in a wheelchair.

Hernandez filed a request with the property management team at Clemens Place to make reasonable modifications to their apartment and install a ramp at the back of the building.

About a month later, the affordable housing manager responded to the request.

Instead of building a ramp, management offered to move the family of five to a different apartment.

Hernandez said that simply wasn’t an option because she didn’t feel comfortable in the neighborhood. She expressed concerns about taking her daughter back and forth to the hospital.

"We could move, but that area isn't the best for her,” Hernandez said.

That prompted Hernandez to reach out to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities for help.

She also filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but so far nothing has worked.

"I would like to have a ramp here to stay here, my daughter would like to stay here, and we like it here,” Hernandez said.

Eyewitness News spoke with the Department of Housing to find out if more could be done to help.

According to Dan Arsenault, tenants can express what they need to the property managers, but they can't choose what they get.

It's up to the landlord to decide what's a 'reasonable' option for the family.

Eyewitness News also spoke with the Clemens Place affordable housing manager, who said she's been in contact with the family but couldn't comment further.

Eyewitness News also asked to speak with the property manager, but had to leave several messages, asking why the ramp couldn’t be built. The property manager has not returned messages.

The family is hoping a ramp can be built by Viviana’s birthday on Dec. 3.

The Connecticut Department of Housing is recommending the family reach out to the Corporation for Independent Living, which has an Access Solutions Program, that works with landlords and property managers to help make reasonable accommodations.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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