Research Request Disability Solid Waste and Water Services

A member city is interested in finding out what other cities do to accommodate their residents with disabilities for services like trash collection. Sometimes cities provide door pick-up for residents who need special assistance. What do other cities might do and how they communicate, track, review such services; and if there are any concerns to be aware of? Additionally, there might be services in other cities to adopt related to water services.


Summary of Findings


The most common way trash services are provided for disabled persons is door pick-up. For citizens to be enrolled in this service, they often need a doctor’s note, fill out a formal contract for the service, and have to renew after a certain period of time.  Some municipalities provide free door pick-up for their disabled residents when they request it. They limit these services to once a week and put a cap on the number of bags or gallons of trash they will take.  


A very similar program was the backdoor service pick up, which is also good for residents who are unable to take their trash to the curb. This service allows residents to leave their trash by the back door, in a similar fashion as door pickup. Additionally, there are cart pulling services available for persons who cannot pull their cart to the curb.


Very few options are available outside of door pick up, back door, and cart pulling services. Some cities state that they customize their services to their resident’s needs, but do not define what these services might entail.


The main way municipalities communicate this service is through their 311 program that citizens can call or contact online. Another option sometimes available is if the city has a special department for ADA compliance or advocacy, such as “Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities” (Houston, TX) or “City of Austin Americans with Disabilities Program Office”, or “Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities” (New York City, NY). Persons with disabilities can channel their needs through these specific departments or offices. They also can access advocates, legal assistance, tax assistance, translation services, and communications services through such departments.


Cities identified to have disability solid waste services include: City of Richmond, VA; City of Houston, TX; Lucas County, OH; City of Tampa, FL; City of Shreveport, LA; Charlotte, NC; Seattle, WA; Mesa, AZ.


Regarding water services, there is little done to help disabled persons beyond utility assistance and customer assistance programs that provide flexible payments for eligible persons based on age, disabilities, or income. These include bill discounts, flexible terms, temporary assistance, water efficiency/conservation subsidies, and lifeline rates, in order of most common to least common.



In terms of water services, cities identified to have Water and Wastewater customer assistance programs include: Los Angeles, CA; Hermosa Redondo, CA; Marin County, CA; San Antonio, TX; Clay County, FL

Disability Solid Waste Services


City/ Department

Service Type

Communicate Service

Track and Review Services




Brunswick County, NC


Solid Waste and Recycling


Waste Industries, Inc. Contract


Special accommodations


Side door, back door, garage area, or agreeable pick up point cart rollout assistance

Special accommodation request to Waste Industries



-safe and adequate access on the road

-trash cart easily accessible, no dogs or other obstructions

-all trash properly bagged

-Syringes placed in closed hard plastic container

-handicap identification number, written statement from doctor on disability, and age related infirmities




Charlotte, NC

Special Arrangements

311 or Disability Collection verification  form





Fort Worth, TX


Solid Waste Services Division, Code Compliance Department

Disabled Carry Out Service


Options for front porch or other

Call and/or complete application



-Certification of Disability from Physician





City of Houston, TX


Solid Waste Management Service




Automated, Recycling, and Yard waste assistance options

311 Call


“Citizens with Disabilities Application for Services” online form.



-Pets must be restrained

-Residence must be accessible

-Waive claims against City of Houston against any damages in connection with personnel entering property

-Certification from physician and resident of disability






Hampton, Virginia 

Door Pick Up 

311 Call Service



Not all disabled persons who need trash pickup will have access to an online form. 


Not all disabled persons may know about 311 or have a phone. 




King County, WA

Hazardous Waste Home Collection

Household Hazards Line call



This pick-up service helps King County seniors 65 years or older and residents with disabilities safely dispose of hazardous waste they may have in their home or garage.




Lower Merion Township, PA

Disability Waiver for Rear Yard Collection Fee


Solid Waste Fee Senior Rebate Program


Call Township’s Public Works Department for an application or  download from website









Lucas County, OH


Contracted services with Republic Services


ADA Accessibility for Lucas County Residents in Toledo City, OH


Customized special assistance for trash and recycling


Typically cart pulling and back door pickup




Solid Waste Accomodation Program



Contact Republic Services by phone to request service, receive form, then representative visits home


ASL Translation services provided by Republic Service


Outreach to the disabled community through various agencies


Social media




Advertised in billing information from City of Toledo


Annually review services


Record and monitor number of residents utilizing the service

Leadership challenges


Difficulty in being a specialized program that is not practiced throughout the entire Republic Services company

SWAP is a collaborative effort of Republic Services, Lucas County, the City of Toledo and the Toledo-Lucas County Commission on Disabilities









Brittany Ford


Policy Analyst,

Lucas County Department of Planning & Development

ADA Coordinator Projects

Miami-Dade County, FL


Solid Waste Management

Special assistance for trash and recycling services

Call or email department person listed or call 311


711 Relay service Florida for communication assistance



Able to request materials in accessible format, sign language, interpreters, or other means to participate in a program or meeting


Able to track service requests in Solid Waste Public Records Request online


No application link available  




City of Richmond, VA


Solid Waste Management Division, Department of Public Works

Back door refuse collection

311 call or online fprm



-Only 1 supercan empty

-Case by Case basis approval

-Proof of Disability

-Renew every 3 years



William Heckstall


Interim Operation and Program Manager for Division of Solid Waste Management


Seattle, WA


Seattle Public Utilities

Carts-to-Curb Help

Call SPU Customer Service to request backyard service



Distinction between single family housing and multi family housing:

If you qualify and live in a single-family house, the hauler will collect your containers from the backyard.

In multi-unit buildings, eligible residents will receive a sticker to notify collectors there is a backyard exempt can to pick up.




Shreveport, LA


Contract services through Republic Services


Department of Public Works, Solid Waste Division

Disability Backdoor Garbage Collection Service


Recycling and household waste only


No Yard Waste

Mail or fax application found online



-Applicant Statement

-Physician Statement

-must be able to see cart from street




Tampa, FL

Back door pick up


Residential and Recycling carts assistance (household waste only)


No yard waste

Mail application form found online



-1 assigned trash can and recycling can

-Doctor’s note






We hoped to understand if cities had any additional information to offer besides what it is publicly available, specifically pertaining to how cities track and review services, or any concerns with an approach, we reached out to different cities and heard back from Lucas County, OH and Mesa, AZ. Their responses highlight the idea that specialized solid waste services available for disabled residents do not go beyond the scope of door-pickup and roll-out programs, in addition to ASL translation services. It also highlights that the service is provided as needed to residents who reach out, and that residents may hear about this program from other agencies who work with disabled populations if not direclty from the municipality offering them. Billing information is one way a municipality may directly advertise the service. In terms of tracking and reviewing services, Lucas County reported they review and monitor program numbers, meet annually for formal review, but meet as needed to address issues.

Lucas County, OH

In 2011, the City of Toledo signed a contract with Lucas County who contracts with Republic Services to provide solid waste management services for city residents. In 2016, Republic developed the Solid Waste Assistance or Accommodation Program (SWAP) in partnership with the City of Toledo, Lucas County, the Toledo/Lucas County Commission on Disabilities (TLCCOD), and the U.S. Department of Justice. This was a program specific for City of Toledo residents for trash services to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for residents with disabilities. Since then, ongoing external communications and outreach by Republic, the City of Toledo, Lucas County, and TLCCOD has occurred utilizing the SWAP program name and program enrollment grew to the 497 residents (as of June 2019). Republic sub-contracts some of SWAP's operations, specifically bringing bins to/from the curb, to a local nonprofit operator TRIAD. 

Lucas County residents outside of the City of Toledo do have ADA compliance for solid waste management and can coordinate this directly with Republic. It is very similar in function but Republic does not subcontract with TRIAD to provide these services.

Republic (as understood by the County) does have full effective communication access including ASL interpretation, TTY services, etc., as residents call in for services to their call center and through their intake process.

We communicate these services to the public in several different ways: directly with the disabilities community including with the above-mentioned Toledo Lucas County Commission on Disabilities and local providers The Ability Center and Deaf Services Center of Northwest Ohio. Additionally, we - collectively as partners, individually as government entities and Republic - have SWAP program information on our respective websites and have put this program information including the program's Republic-produced flyer on our social media and official newsletters. We have done outreach directly with additional community agencies including Lucas County Job and Family Services, Area Office on Aging, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, and other community partners. I believe the City of Toledo has included it in billing information sent to city residents and Republic has sent out in their public communications as well. The partners have generally convened annually or as needed to talk through issues and to ensure the program continues to be communicated out to the community.

The program generally focuses on cart pulling/back door pick up, but it can be customized during the intake process with Republic. We pull program numbers bimonthly from Republic to monitor and as for general concerns, I think because it's a specialized program and not operationalized throughout the entire Republic company, it's subject to leadership change issues and other issues, which is why the partners meet at minimum annually and monitor program numbers.

From: Lucas County Department of Planning & Development


Mesa, AZ

In regards to trash/recycle service, we offer assisted stops to those individuals that cannot roll out the barrel to the curb.  This is where our truck operator will stop at the individual’s home, roll out the barrel for them, service it and then return it back.  The disabled resident simply needs to contact our department to make the request.  At that point, one of our foreman will do a site visit to let the resident know where the barrel should be placed so our driver can access it when they arrive at the home.  Once serviced, the driver will roll it back to the same spot.  There is no charge for this service.

Water Resources have a notification protocol for dialysis users/centers in case of an emergency water shutdown. Any customer can contact our Utility Control Center if they need assistance 24-hours a day.

From: City of Mesa Environmental Management & Sustainability Department



Based on the available literature, there is limited public available information publicly on how these services are tracked and reviewed, or any concerns related to disability accommodations. The apparent concerns have to do with liability to the municipality or company and ensuring the resident is entitled to the service with medical proof. Most municipalities require contract renewal for specialized services annually or every 3 years with a doctor’s note, and a statement by the applicant of disability. Residents won’t be serviced if they cannot see the cart from the street, or if there are obstructions in the way of the cart, such as dogs or locked gates. The only city that provided insight on how they record these cases is City of Houston, TX, where the person completing the solid waste assistance to the residence must make note for the reason they did not complete their service.

A concern with this service in general is communicating to the routing servicer and drivers which residence requires specialized services, and ensuring that no residence is forgotten or skipped over. There is an article that covers this issue experience by a disabled couple where he signed up for the special service through Republic Services, but they would not bring his trash to the curb for 2 weeks. He called 10 times to resolve the issue before someone would help.


Water and Wastewater Services for Disabled Residents

Los Angeles, CA; Marin County, CA; San Antonio, TX; Clay County, FL



Name of Service

Service Type



Clay County, FL

Disability Assistance Plan and Golden Opportunities, Lend A Helping Hand Program

Flexible Terms and Temporary Assistance for Water and Waste water services

Anyone who is 62 years of age or older, retired, on limited or fixed income, or disabled and elderly customers may have up to 21 days after the due date on the bill to pay their water bill.


Lend a Helping Hand program allows handicapped, elderly, low income households, or anyone experiencing temporary hardship or emergency situations to receive donations to help pay water bills.




Los Angeles, CA


LA Department of Water and Power

Payment arrangements, Discount Rates, Utility User Electric/Water Lifeline Rate Tax exemption

Lifeline rates


Billing Discounts


Flexible Terms

Customers who are 62 years of age or older or permanently disabled may qualify, based solely on their income, to have a discount applied to their electric and/or water bills.


Hearing impaired hotline available for payment arrangements


Billing statement choices:



Large print

Telephone notifications (includes any account delinquency information that could result in a shut-off of service)









Hermosa Redondo, CA


California Water Service

Low Income Rate Assistance


Bathroom Fixture Replacement Program

Billing Discount


Water efficiency and conservation

50% discount available based on handicapped status, age, housing income

The utility pays for the materials and labor to replace a toilet, faucet, and showerhead with no limit on the number of bathrooms per household.






Marin County, CA

Discounted Rate Program


Service Charge Waiver Based on Income


Medical Disability Discount

Billing Discount


Lifeline Rate


Water Efficiency

Discounted Rate Program waives the bimonthly meter service charge. The water used is billed according to usual and current rate structure.


Medical Disability Discount

Offers an additional nine CCFs of water to be billed at the Tier 1 base rate


Both install water-efficient showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators in your home that meet MMWD code






San Antonio, TX


San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS)

Affordability Discount Program


Senior Citizen Billing Program


Disability Billing Program


Project Aqua


Fee Waiver Programs


Courtesy Notice Programs


Plumbers to People Program

Billing Discount


Temporary Assistance


Water Efficiency


Exemption from late payment penalties


One time payment assistance


Offers residential customers with medical necessity 24 hours notice prior to interruption of service due to nonpayment


Plumbing assistance to low-income residential customers seeking repairs to leaking plumbing fixtures.







The majority of accommodations for disabled person regarding water services in municipalities are based on flexible payments, billing discounts, bathroom fixture replacement programs, specialized billing and communication forms (braille, large print, telephone notifications, hearing impairment hotlines) These programs help reduce the bill through water efficiency or discounts, and provide flexibility in payment, assistance in payment, or late payment without penalty.



“Other hurdles include policies at the local level, such as North Carolina’s Orange Water and Sewer Authority, which, as a condition of the initial bond sale creating the utility, is prohibited from offering free services to prevent revenue loss (more details are available in the case study on page 18). Any utility considering implementing a CAP should, as an early step, identify state or local policy barriers and consider how these might be overcome. Using this compendium as a reference, utilities facing potential policy barriers can seek out other utilities in their state for advice” (Source


Overall, there is little variation in service options or innovative options for trash and water services for disabled persons.








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