HUD No. 06-102
August 21, 2006
HUD CHARGES ILLINOIS LANDLORD WITH VIOLATING FAIR HOUSING ACT
Schaumburg owner refused accessible parking space to disabled woman
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Georgina Estrada, a Schaumburg, Illinois, property owner, and her son, Martin Estrada, with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to provide an accessible parking space to a tenant with physical disabilities.
The charge alleges that the Estradas refused Gail Griswold's requests for an accessible parking space, despite seeing her disability placard in her car window and her Social Security disability check. Griswold's disabilities make it difficult for her to walk, requiring her to use a cane at times.
HUD's investigation showed that when Griswold moved into the property in November 2004, the former owner provided her with an accessible parking space. In April 2005, the Estradas acquired the property and assumed the leases. Upon meeting the Estradas, Griswold notified them that the former landlord had assigned an accessible parking space to her. Griswold requested that the Estradas continue this accommodation and inform the other tenants of her assigned parking space. Mr. Estrada's alleged response to the request was the universal symbol of accessibility is "painted on the parking lot-what else do you want?"
In July 2005 the parking lot was repaved, removing the universal accessibility logo from the spot formerly reserved for Griswold's use. Without the designation, other tenants and visitors began parking in the space. Griswold asked Mr. Estrada to assign the accessible parking space to her, notify the other tenants of the assignment, replace the universal accessibility logo on the assigned space, and place an accessible parking sign in front of the space.
The Estradas admitted that they rejected Griswold's request, stating that they did so because they did not think she was disabled or in need of an accessible parking space.
"No one who has a physical disability should be denied a reasonable accommodation needed in order to function on a daily basis," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Only through continuous education efforts and aggressive enforcement actions can we end the unlawful practice of denying these requests."
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against persons because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney's fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, and people with disabilities. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 or DOJ at (800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available on the Internet and www.usdoj.gov.