Sunday, December 06, 2015

HUD Disabilities-Related Fair Housing Complaints: Failure To Give Dedicated Accessible Parking Spot, Wheelchair Discrimination, Failure To Stop Harrasment Of Tenants w/ Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome

In Washington, D.C., the Department of Housing & Urban Development recently announced the commencement of the following administrative actions against landlords for alleged conduct (or in one case, the failure to engage in conduct) that may rise to the level of housing discrimination against people with disabilities:
  • Wisconsin Landlords Charged w/ Housing Discrimination After Claims They Allowed Harassment Of Tenants w/ Disabilities (charging the owner and managers of a 55-plus senior housing complex with 15 units in Cross Plains, Wisconsin with violating the Fair Housing Act for failing to take action to stop several tenants from harassing a neighbor, who has cerebral palsy, and her daughter with Down’s syndrome):

    The case came to HUD’s attention when the mother filed a complaint alleging that she and her daughter were being subjected to constant harassment by some of their neighbors at Applewood Apartments. Specifically, the mother alleged that several of her neighbors repeatedly followed her and her daughter making offensive comments to them. In one exchange, a neighbor allegedly told the woman and her daughter: “You don’t belong here…You belong in an institution.” In another encounter, a resident allegedly referred to the woman’s daughter as “mentally retarded” telling her, “You shouldn’t be out of your apartment during the day.”

    Local police warned the offending residents that citations might be forthcoming if more reports were made, but the harassment continued. The woman also reported the harassment to apartment managers but rather than addressing the behavior, one manager began pressuring the woman to move, stating that he did not believe the woman’s daughter was capable of living independently and that the two of them were causing too much trouble.

    The woman and her daughter moved out of their apartment after they were served notice that their lease would not be renewed. (read HUD's administrative complaint)
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  • HUD Charges Minnesota Property Owners w/ Discriminating Against Resident w/ Disabilities (charging the owner and managers of a 120-unit complex in New Brighton, Minnesota, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a resident with disabilities to have a dedicated accessible parking spot; denied the woman's request for a reasonable accommodation, which resulted in the woman falling several times because of the distance she had to walk to her unit):

    The case came to HUD's attention when the woman, who has an ambulatory disability and cannot walk more than 200 feet, filed a complaint alleging that the apartment owners refused to allow her to have a dedicated accessible parking space. The property owners did designate a general handicapped space that did meet her needs but because the landlord would not reserve it for her sole use, the spot was often occupied by other residents. After experiencing several falls because of having to walk significant distances to her unit, the woman moved out for fear of hurting herself further. (read HUD's administrative complaint)
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  • HUD Charges South Dakota Property Owners w/ Discriminating Against Resident In Wheelchair (charged the owners and landlords of an eight-unit apartment complex in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a resident with disabilities to use a wheelchair in his apartment. HUD's charge also alleges that the trustee and manager of the property refused to return the resident's security deposit after he was forced to move out of his apartment and retaliated against him by providing a negative reference to a prospective landlord because the man had filed a housing discrimination complaint with HUD):

    The case came to HUD's attention when a resident filed a complaint alleging that Salem discriminated against people with disabilities by prohibiting the use of wheelchairs in his apartments. The resident also alleged that Salem made discriminatory statements about his disability on three separate occasions. At one point, while the man was recovering from a leg injury at a nursing facility, staff at the facility received an unsolicited letter from Salem stating that the man was not welcome back to his apartment because he was incapable of living independently and his wheelchair would damage the carpet.

    Sometime later, the man was served with a notice to vacate and moved out. Salem, however, refused to return the man's $350 security deposit and retaliated against him by providing a negative reference to a prospective landlord because the man had filed a housing discrimination complaint with HUD. (read HUD's administrative complaint)

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