SPRINGFIELD HOUSING AUTHORITY SETTLES DISPUTES OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST RESIDENT WITH DISABILITIES

WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that the Springfield Housing Authority in Springfield, MA, has entered into agreements settling allegations of housing discrimination based on disability. The allegations involved an 82-year-old deaf housing authority resident who allegedly did not receive the same access to communications as individuals without disabilities, as required by the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Read the Conciliation and Voluntary Compliance agreements.

Specifically, the Springfield Housing Authority allegedly refused to grant a reasonable accommodation that would have provided the long-time female resident with the equipment needed to receive the same level of notification available to hearing tenants and allegedly denied her equal access to services they provide to other residents.

The Fair Housing Actprohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.  Similarly, ADA and Section 504 prohibit certain housing providers from discriminating on the basis of disability, including failing to make reasonable accommodations and modifications, and failing to take appropriate steps to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.

“Today’s agreement reaffirms HUD’s commitment to ensuring that all housing providers, including housing authorities, understand their obligations under the law and take steps to meet that obligation so that every person has an equal chance to use and enjoy their housing,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

The resident was assisted by the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, in filing her complaint.  The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, a HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program agency, investigated the Title VIII complaint. And HUD investigated the complaint under Section 504 and the ADA.  While the investigation was ongoing, the woman and the housing authority agreed to settle the complaint. HUD, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the parties negotiated a Conciliation Agreement with the Commission and a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with HUD.

In addition to the housing authority agreeing to pay a total of $51,000 to the woman, it agreed to cover the $5,000 it will cost to monitor its compliance with the agreement over the next three years. The housing authority also agreed to communicate with the resident via American Sign Language or telephonic video relay communications and to provide a device to allow for a video relay system in her apartment.  Finally, the housing authority agreed to consult with disability experts in addressing the needs of deaf tenants and to incorporate the recommendations of the most recent fire safety requirements specifically for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

In FY 2015, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,548 complaints, or nearly 55 percent of the overall total.

People 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). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet
at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.

You can also connect with HUD on social media and follow Secretary Castro on
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Elena Gaona
(202) 708-0685

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (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.

Contact:

Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685

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