HUD No. 08-122
August 12, 2008
HUD CHARGES NEW YORK LANDLORDS WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST A DISABLED RESIDENT
WASHINGTON - The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that is has charged the owners and board of directors of an apartment building in Rockville Centre, New York, with housing discrimination for refusing to allow a woman with disabilities to keep a pet for emotional support.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Mary Pasko, who suffers from arthritis and depression, lived with her daughter Joan Anzelone at the 20-unit building. Ms. Anzelone wrote a letter to the board of directors of 75 Main Avenue Owners Corp., requesting a waiver of its no-pet policy to allow her mother's dog Coco to reside with them as an emotional support animal for her mother. The request was denied and Anzelone was given three weeks to remove Coco. The board also threatened to pursue legal action and deny parking privileges if the dog was not removed within that time frame. When the family's attorney offered to provide physician statements, the request was again denied and the board of directors later initiated legal action against Ms. Anzelone.
"We understand that no-pet policies are put into place for various reasons but sometimes you have to stop and consider how such a policy would impact disabled residents who may need a waiver to enjoy their homes as others do," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "These types of reasonable accommodation cases reflect HUD's commitment to enforcing this nation's fair housing laws."
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 a federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to each complainant for actual loss as a result of the 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, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition to damages payable to the complainant, the judge may impose a civil penalty in order to vindicate the public interest. In the event of an election, a federal district court judge may also award punitive damages to a prevailing complainant.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,000 housing complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (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 new 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.