Huntsville Woman Demands Building Owner Add Handicapped Parking

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – We’ve all seen the blue handicapped accessible parking spaces in parking lots. Imagine what it’s like for someone who needs one of those spaces, but they literally don’t exist where she lives. That’s the case for a Huntsville woman who says her handicapped placard does no good.

Earline Morris wrote WHNT NEWS 19 to say her apartment complex has no handicapped parking. Morris has talked with apartment managers, but you would think, she does not need to ask for handicapped parking. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires designated parking for people living with disabilities.

A lot of people who are handicapped might be surprised with what WHNT NEWS 19 found.

Morris has bad knee. She gets by, but not without a few pains along the way.

“It’s right over in here or back up in here. All of this locks up. I can’t bend it at all,” said Morris as she showed WHNT NEWS 19 her knee.

WHNT NEWS 19 talked with Morris on a good day. She talked outside her Huntsville apartment on Bonnell Drive. Morris moved in May 2012 and paid a full year’s rent upfront.

“I hate moving. It’s hard for me to move with my bad knees and hand. I very seldom have anyone to help me,” added Morris.

Morris is handicapped. She likes parking near the door to her apartment.

“I would like to keep that one because my knees are so bad. I can’t walk that far,” added Morris.

She doesn’t always have the option.

“Sometimes the whole parking lot is taken with people who don’t even live out here,” added Morris.

Morris says it makes her mad.

“I want you to tell them they need to put handicapped stickers out here. They need to put parking numbers at each parking space, so people can have a designated parking space,” added Morris.

She’s tried talking to an apartment manager.

“She said she was going to help out, then said she was tired of the issue and tired of me taking her through this because I was calling her non-stop when people had my parking space, added Morris.

WHNT NEWS 19 went to the apartment manager to find out why.

“She hasn’t said anything to me about a handicapped space. The owners, she asked, but they said they could not do one,” said the apartment manager.

WHNT NEWS 19 asked, “The owners said that? Can you give us a card so we can call them?”

The apartment manager declined to share the owner’s contact information.

WHNT NEWS 19 went to the city asking about requirements for handicapped parking spaces. WHNT was told the Americans with Disabilities Act says two handicapped spaces should go into a parking lot the size of the one at Morris’ apartment.

There is one problem. The ADA was adopted in 1990. Morris’ building was built in 1984, so ADA rules don’t apply.

Morris’ request for handicapped parking at her apartment complex is a civil matter. The director of Huntsville’s inspection office told WHNT NEWS 19 Morris must deal with the property owner to request the accessible parking.

The ADA does say buildings built before 1990 must conform to some rules if they undergo major renovations.

WHNT NEWS 19 called the people listed as the owners of Morris’ building, but never heard back.

We reported an update to the story in April. Earline Morris called the newsroom in March saying the property owner installed a handicapped sign outside her front door.

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