HUD No. 08-023
February 21, 2008
HUD CHARGES PUERTO RICO CONDO ASSOCIATION WITH VIOLATING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
Parque de las Flores Condominium Association allegedly refused to offer accessible parking
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Parque de las Flores Condominium Association with violating the Fair Housing Act. HUD claims the association refused to provide an accessible parking space to Windy Calderon and her five-year old son who requires a wheelchair. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny such a request when it is necessary to accommodate a tenant's disability.
HUD's investigation found that in September 2006, Ms. Calderon requested that the condominium association allow her to use one of the handicapped parking spaces reserved for visitors so that she could more easily transfer her son from his wheelchair into and out of her minivan. The association denied her request, stating that the handicapped spaces were for the use of visitors only erroneously citing the American with Disabilities Act. Instead, the condominium association offered Ms. Calderon alternatives that would have required her to leave her severely disabled son unattended either on the sidewalk or in her apartment.
"No one caring for a family member with a disability should have to endure what this mother and her son had to go through," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "It's inexcusable that the Board was not willing to modify its policies to provide an accessible parking space for a child with a disability."
A hearing on the charge will be held before a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on May 8, 2008, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, unless either of the parties elects to have the case heard in U.S. District Court. An election to go to district court must be made by March 4, 2008.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $16,000 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.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 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). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing. Stay on top of the most up-to-date news regarding the Fair Housing Act by signing up for the FHEO RSS Feed.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. 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.