Housing discrimination affects those at all stages of finding a home, whether looking to buy or trying to find a rental unit. Housing discrimination cases are aggressively pursued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but often times the only way to stop further discrimination is for the victims to step forward to make a formal complaint.
That’s exactly what happened in one case, which reached a settlement this week according to a press release from HUD. According to HUDNo.16-76, the agency has reached an agreement with Eden Management in Illinois; “…a $630,000 agreement with a group of Illinois property owners and a management company resolving allegations they violated the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by using rental screening policies that prevented applicants with mental disabilities from living in a supportive living complex the group owned.”
According to the press release, “The case came to HUD’s attention after several individuals with mental disabilities filed complaints alleging they were denied residency at the property managed by Eden Management, LLC, due to their disabilities. The individuals filed their complaints with the assistance of HOPE Fair Housing Center, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency in DuPage County. HOPE conducted three tests at Eden and also filed a complaint with the Department.”
Federal fair housing laws prohibit such discrimination. It is a violation of the Fair Housing Act to discriminate against a house hunter or potential renter, “in the sale or rental of a dwelling on the basis of disability. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”. Those who feel they have been discriminated against in violation of Fair Housing Laws are urged to report their experiences to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Discriminatory practices that target persons with disabilities not only violate their rights, they lock them out of decent, safe and affordable housing,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in the press release. “HUD remains committed to taking action when property owners and managers fail to meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.”
The press release says the settlement includes a set of requirements for Eden Management. “Under the terms of the Conciliation and Voluntary Compliance Agreement, Eden will pay Complainants $630,000, which includes relief and attorneys’ fees and costs. The agreement further requires Eden to make significant policy changes, including revising its admissions manual and handbook; updating its non-discrimination statement; establishing a reasonable accommodation policy; and conducting fair housing training for employees.”
If you have experienced this or any other type of housing discrimination, file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity: (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
Do you work in residential real estate? You should know about the free tool offered by FHA.com. It is designed especially for real estate websites; a widget that displays FHA loan limits for the counties serviced by those sites. It is simple to spend a few seconds customizing the state, counties, and widget size for the tool; you can copy the code and paste it into your website with ease. Get yours today: