WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today charged the owners, architect, and builder of a Denver, Colorado apartment building with housing discrimination for failing to make the complex handicap accessible. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex and familial status. It also requires that covered multifamily housing dwellings must be designed and constructed to provide accessible and usable housing for individuals with disabilities.
“It can be very difficult for persons with disabilities to live in housing that does not meet the Fair Housing Act’s design and construction requirements,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Hopefully HUD’s action will help other housing owners and builders better understand their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and encourage them to comply with the law.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when Denver Metro Fair Housing Center (DMFHC), a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, filed a complaint after fair housing tests on the complex indicated that it likely violated the Fair Housing Act. HUD’s charge alleges that the owners and builders failed to design and construct the building in accordance with the Fair Housing Act because certain areas of the building are inaccessible to people with mobility impairments.
“The design and construction provisions of the Fair Housing Act ensure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to access and enjoy their homes within multifamily developments,” said J. Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “HUD will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to advocate for persons with disabilities, and other protected classes, who face discrimination in housing.”
The case will be heard in federal district court. If it is determined that illegal discrimination occurred, a judge may award actual and punitive damages, order injunctive, or other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, and order that defendants pay the couple’s attorney fees.
Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights. Individuals who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).