|HUD No. 09-174
September 17, 2009
HUD ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE ORDERS PUERTO RICO CONDO ASSOCIATION TO PAY $35,000 FOR HOUSING DISCRIMINATION AND TO PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE PARKING
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that a HUD Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), in an Initial Decision, has ordered a Puerto Rico condominium association to pay $25,000 in damages, provide accessible parking spaces to two disabled residents, and pay $10,000 in civil penalties for violating the fair housing rights of a disabled couple.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, as well as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status.
Housing providers, including condominium associations, must provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to allow them to use and enjoy their homes. In 2008, HUD charged the Astralis Condominium Association of Carolina, Puerto Rico, with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to grant Carlos Garcia Guillen and Sonia Velez Aviles the use of two handicap accessible parking spaces. The charge further alleged that the Association harassed and intimidated the two residents, who have physical disabilities that impair their mobility.
"Under the Fair Housing Act, condominium and homeowner associations must make reasonable accommodations to their policies and practices for persons with disabilities," said John Trasviña HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Accommodations are often minor, but they provide persons with disabilities access to housing, equality, and dignity."
The ALJ's Initial Decision and Order, which will become the agency's final decision if not revised by HUD's Secretary within 30 days, found that the Condominium Association violated the Fair Housing Act by denying Guillen and Aviles's request to use two handicap parking spaces close to their unit. The ALJ further found that the Condominium Association harassed the couple by, among other things, placing stickers on their car windows and filing a court action to prevent them from using the handicapped parking spaces. The complainants said that they "felt humiliated and ashamed while removing the parking stickers from their cars with razorblades." The Initial Decision and Order requires the Association to pay Guillen and Aviles $25,000 in damages and to allow them to use the requested parking spaces. The Association also must pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate over 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.
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