ESAs/PSDs in Shelters and Dorms

I've recently been asked for supporting information regarding homeless and emergency shelters being required to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals, including untrained emotional support animals in addition to service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Here are the facts:

Rights to Assistance Animals in Housing under FHA are Far Broader than for Public Access Under ADA

ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act which deals with public access rights for trained service dogs/mini-horses which assist people with disabilities. FHA is the Fair Housing Act and it deals with any species of assistance animal which is defined in that law as “Assistance animals include guide dogs for persons with visual disabilities, as well as other types of assistance animals that help people with other disabilities, including emotional support for persons with mental disabilities or whose disabilities result in chronic pain.” [emphasis added] (source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Guidebook for Practitioners) This puts an emotional support cat on the same footing as a guide dog in terms of housing (but not public access in restaurants, etc.).

Shelters and Dorms Must Comply with Both the FHA and the ADA

The FHA released a memorandum: “Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs” dated April 25, 2013. It addresses this issue clearly:

Section III. Applying Multiple Laws
Certain entities will be subject to both the service animal requirements of the ADA and the reasonable accommodation provisions of the FHAct and/or Section 504. These entities include, but are not limited to, public housing agencies and some places of public accommodation, such as rental offices, shelters, residential homes, some types of multifamily housing, assisted living facilities, and housing at places of education.Covered entities must ensure compliance with all relevant civil rights laws. As noted above, compliance with the FHAct and Section 504 does not ensure compliance with the ADA. Similarly, compliance with the ADA's regulations does not ensure compliance with the FHAct or Section 504. The preambles to DOJ’s 2010 Title II and Title III ADA regulations state that public entities or public accommodations that operate housing facilities "may not use the ADA definition of "service animal"] as a justification for reducing their FHAct obligations. [emphasis added] [see full text at:

HUD is Enforcing Compliance at Shelters and Colleges

A federal judge ruled in HUD’s favor in Nebraska regarding the UofN’s failure to accommodate a student’s emotional support dog:

HUD has sued a Pennsyvania homeless shelter for refusal to accommodate an assistance animal (note: under the FHA people with emotional support animals have as much right to their assistance animals as do people with guide dogs):