(Source: HUD) -- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today a settlement agreement with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) after a resident complained the housing authority failed to make a reasonable accommodation for a family with a young son with special needs. HABC will pay $150,000 to the public housing resident as part of the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
The resident alleged that the housing authority failed to grant her request to be transferred to a larger unit that was closer to family support. The resident and her young son are persons with disabilities who needed a larger unit near family members who could assist in caring for them. The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 makes it unlawful for any federally funded housing program to deny program benefits to an individual based on a disability.
“Requests for reasonable accommodations that are needed by persons with disabilities must be taken seriously and receive timely responses,” said Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD’s Regional Administrator of the mid-Atlantic region. “HUD will continue to investigate the causes of delays in granting reasonable accommodation requests and take action when we determine that they were unnecessary.”
According to the HUD complaint, the resident made several requests over a four-year period to be transferred to a four-bedroom unit that was closer to her family support system. She also provided doctor’s letters indicating that the requested transfer would ameliorate her son’s disability and her multiple disabilities. Among other things, her son’s doctor recommended a larger unit so that the child, who is susceptible to viral infections due to asthma, would not have to share a bedroom with his siblings. Additionally, the mother raised concerns about mold and pests and the lack of air and heat controls in the two-bedroom unit they occupied at the time. Still, the housing authority failed to grant her requests until several months after she filed a complaint with HUD.
Under the terms of the agreement, HABC will pay the mother $150,000 and pay her attorneys $10,000. To ensure that future reasonable accommodation requests are properly addressed, HABC will also post signage that details its reasonable accommodation policy and procedures, train staff and property managers on how to comply with reasonable accommodation requests, and submit regular reports to HUD on its efforts to promptly respond to reasonable accommodation requests.
Persons 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 devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.