Corporation allegedly refused to make Vietnam veteran’s unit accessible
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that it is charging the Urban League Housing Corporation of Greater Miami, Inc., its president, and a management company with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to make one of its units accessible for a disabled veteran. HUD brings the charge on behalf of a 71 year-old double amputee veteran, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. In addition, the Corporation allegedly refused to transfer the veteran to an accessible unit and threatened to evict him after he sought assistance from the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s office.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to grant persons with disabilities reasonable accommodations, such as changes to rules, policies or practices that allow them to fully enjoy their home. The Fair Housing Act also prohibits coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person for having exercised their fair housing rights.
"Veterans deserve our thanks and respect whether their service to the nation was this year or fifty years ago,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Moreover, landlords have a legal obligation to grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations. HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet these fair housing responsibilities.”
According to HUD’s charge, the veteran’s social worker made several requests to the Urban League Housing Corp. to install accessible features, including wider doorways, or to transfer him to an accessible unit, but was refused. Shortly thereafter, the tenant contacted the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s Office for assistance. After a staff person from the Commissioner’s office visited the property, the veteran was transferred to another unit, that was not accessible. When the veteran moved back into his original unit six months later, the unit had still not been made accessible and its stove had been removed.
The HUD charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to the aggrieved person.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY).