HUD No. 05-157
Antoinette P. Banks
November 14, 2005
HUD COMMENDS CALIFORNIA AGENCY FOR $1 MILLION SETTLEMENT IN DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Landlord refused to accommodate tenant with accessible parking
WASHINGTON - The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development today commended California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for winning a $1 million disability discrimination settlement against a San Francisco landlord who refused a tenant's request for an accessible parking space. DFEH is one of 103 state and local agencies nationwide whom HUD funds under the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP).
"We are happy to play a small role in easing Shirley Carper's daily journey to her apartment and we hope this settlement will help owners and apartment managers everywhere to understand their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "It's hard to imagine that a 68-year-old with a degenerative joint disease in her knees and a cane has to sue to simply get an accessible parking space."
In the lawsuit, in San Francisco County Superior Court, DFEH contended that in May 2000 the owners of a San Francisco apartment building violated the state fair housing law by not affording Shirley Carper, a tenant of 24 years, an accessible parking space and extra keys for her live-in caregiver. Despite repeated requests, instead of receiving a better parking space, Carper received disturbing letters from the buildings owners questioning her ailment.
"I just became almost like a prisoner in my apartment because coming and going without one of my adult children here to help me was impossible," said Carper.
After the landlord initially denied Ms. Carper's requests, Ms. Carper sought help from Project Sentinel, a private fair housing group that HUD funds under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). Project Sentinel intervened with the landlord on Carper's behalf. After no success, Project Sentinel assisted Ms. Carper in filing a complaint with HUD in July 2002. HUD immediately referred the matter to DFEH for investigation under the State of California's law, which HUD has certified as providing rights, remedies, and judicial review provisions that are substantially equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act.
The DFEH's Superior Court settlement, in addition to providing $1 million in compensatory damages and an upper level parking space for Ms. Carper, provided $2,650.00 to Project Sentinel to compensate the organization for resources the organization expended assisting Ms. Carper.
Project Sentinel and other FHIP organizations help victims of discrimination by investigating housing discrimination complaints, mediating resolutions for these complaints, and referring complaints to HUD or a state enforcement agency when necessary. FHIP is the only federal grant program that supports private fair housing enforcement and education activities.
This year, HUD has awarded $1.46 million in FHIP grants to nine fair housing organizations in the San Francisco Bay area. A total of $2.30 million was awarded to 15 fair housing organizations throughout the State of California, which is approximately 13 percent of the $18.04 million in FHIP grants awarded nationwide. HUD has awarded Project Sentinel a grant of $214,568.80 to assist others like Ms. Carper in pursuing their fair housing rights.
The groups HUD has funded in California this year are, as follows:
AIDS Legal Referral Panel of San Francisco, $70,222.00
Asian Pacific American Legal Center of CA, $100,000.00
Bay Area Legal Aid, $220,000.00
ByDesign Financial Solutions, $100,000.00
Cailfornia Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., $220,000.00
Fair Housing Council of Central California, $220,000.00
Fair Housing of Marin, $220,000.00
Greater Napa Fair Housing Center, $99,990.00
Housing Authority of the City of Fresno, $100,000.00
Inland Fair Housing and Mediation Board, $219,999.20
La Raza Centro Legal, $100,000.00
Legal Services of Northern California, Inc., $100,000.00
Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., $100,000.00,
Project Sentinel, $214,568.80
Sentinel Fair Housing, $219,432.00
Any person who feels they have experienced housing discrimination may contact a FHIP grant recipient or FHAP agency, and their services are available to the public free of charge. A complete list of FHIP grant recipients and FHAP agencies can be found at HUD's website.
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 HIV/AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as 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.