HUD No. 08-065
May 9, 2008
HUD CHARGES NEW YORK CO-OP WITH DENYING HANDICAP-ACCESSIBLE PARKING SPACE
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged a cooperative apartment complex in Peekskill, New York, with denying a resident with a disability an accessible parking space, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.
Jody Mahon suffered from chronic heart, lung, and joint disease which severely limited her ability to walk uphill. Crompond Apartments is a nine-building, 217-unit cooperative apartment complex, in Peekskill, New York, with hilly terrain. Ms. Mahon routinely had to walk 290 feet uphill to the entrance of the building where her apartment was located.
In October 2006, Ms. Mahon provided the cooperative's Board of Directors a notice from her doctor stating that, because of her disability, she needed a parking space closer to her residence. After Ms. Mahon's repeated requests, the Board of Directors, in December 2006, moved Ms Mahon's parking spot over just two spaces. The new space was still 260 feet away from her residence and required her to walk up the same steep hill. Ms. Mahon complained to the cooperative but never received a closer space, even though such spaces were available. Ms. Mahon filed a complaint with HUD in May 2007.
"One in five Americans has some form of disability. It's important that property owners and managers understand that they must make exceptions to their rules, policies, and procedures if it means making housing livable for persons with disabilities," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The HUD charge now goes before an administrative law judge who may award damages to the complainant for actual loss as a result of the alleged discrimination, as well as damages for emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of civil rights. The judge may also order injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination. Additionally, the judge may impose a maximum civil penalty of $16,000 for each violation for the first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant and order payment of attorneys' 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 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. For more information about FHA products, please visit www.fha.gov.