DJ XX

XX XX XX Lakeland, Florida XX Dear XX This is in response to your letter regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to a lifecare non-profit retirement home sponsored by a church. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Pursuant to that authority, this letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute, and it is not binding on the Department. Your letter notes that the retirement home is sponsored by a church. Title III of the ADA exempts religious organizations or entities controlled by religious organizations from coverage. If the retirement home is operated by a religious organization, it would be exempt from the requirements of title III. Your letter specifically questions whether the retirement home's policy of excluding wheelchairs from the common use dining room violates the ADA. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation. Strictly residential facilities are not places of public accommodation under the ADA. Instead, such facilities may be required to meet nondiscrimination and accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act. However, the retirement home addressed by your letter may be covered by the ADA if it constitutes a social service center establishment. The home may be considered a social service center establishment if it provides a significant enough level of social services such as medical care, meals, transportation, and counseling. No one of these services will automatically trigger ADA coverage. Rather, the determination of whether an entity provides a significant

cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Hill, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\hille\policylt\XX ltr 01-03490

-2enough level of social services will depend on the quantity, quality, and combination of these services. If the retirement home is a social service center establishment covered by the ADA, it may be required to reasonably modify its policies regarding the services it provides in order to afford those services to individuals with disabilities, unless it can demonstrate that such policy modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the services. 28 C.F.R. S 36.302. Therefore, the dining room may need to modify its policy of excluding wheelchairs. In addition, the dining room may be required to remove physical barriers to wheelchair access to the extent that such barrier removal is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. I hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section 01-03491