|HUD No. 12-081
May 10, 2012
HUD ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH NEBRASKA LANDLORD TO SETTLE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT
Resident injured after she was denied a promised accessible unit
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a $22,500 settlement agreement with the owner and managers of at Cheyenne Villa Apartments, a 56-unit, HUD-assisted townhome complex in Sydney, Nebraska. The settlement resolves a complaint filed by a resident who uses a wheelchair and walker, who alleged that management the development failed to accommodate her request to transfer to the first available ground-floor unit. The resident also claimed that management denied requests for a parking space and a ramp to ease her access to her unit.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations that would allow a person with a disability to fully enjoy her home. Similarly, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits providers of federally-assisted housing from denying housing to or discriminating against persons with disabilities.
"Persons with disabilities aren't asking for special treatment when they request reasonable accommodations," said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Ground-floor rooms, designated parking spaces, and ramps may be necessary for persons with disabilities to conduct everyday activities and gain independence in their daily living. HUD is committed to ensuring that housing providers, federally-assisted and otherwise, live up to their obligation to grant reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities when they are needed."
The resident alleged that she moved into the complex, she requested a ground-floor unit but was told none were available. She agreed to move in provided she could move to a ground-floor unit when one became available. The resident alleged that when a unit meeting her needs became available, the manager leased it to a staff person who had requested the unit after the resident did. Remaining in the inaccessible unit, the resident alleged that she suffered significant injuries while negotiating the stairs to reach her bedroom and bathroom. Months later, the resident transferred to a unit on the ground floor bedroom but she alleged management continued to refuse her repeated requests for a ramp to ease access to her unit, a parking space for her handicapped-accessible van, and an accessible route from the parking lot to her unit. These access barriers eventually caused the resident to move from the property.
Under the settlement agreement the owner and managers of Cheyenne Villa agree to:
- Pay the resident $22,500;
- Revise reasonable accommodation, modification and transfer policies and designate a Section 504 coordinator for Cheyenne Villa to handle future reasonable accommodation requests;
- Redesign an accessible unit located on an accessible route, and leading to an accessible parking space, to meet Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards requirements; and
- Alter the complex's seven designated accessible parking spaces to include curb cuts, and post signage marking the spaces.
In addition, the owner, management agents, and staff will receive two hours of training on the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
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