Brooklyn Co-op Charged with Discriminating Against Disabled Veteran
HUD recently charged a Coney Island cooperative community with discrimination against a veteran with a psychiatric disability for refusing to let him keep an emotional support animal.
HUD charged the 1,144-unit community, along with the president of its board of directors, with wrongfully denying the veteran’s request for a reasonable accommodation and taking steps to evict him and his wife in retaliation for filing a fair housing complaint.
Federal fair housing law makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation, including refusing to grant waivers to “no-pet” policies for persons who use assistance or support animals.
Despite the community’s no-pets policy, the veteran, who served in combat in Afghanistan and Kosovo, said he got a dog, a Shi Tzu named Mickey, as an emotional support animal at the recommendation of his physician. Allegedly, the community refused his request for a reasonable accommodation and pursued eviction proceedings, even though he provided medical documentation verifying his condition and need for the dog. The couple also accused the community of retaliating against them for filing their complaint by freezing their place on the wait list for parking in the development’s main parking lot and removing the wife from the co-op’s board of directors.
HUD's charge will be heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.
“For many people with disabilities, support animals are essential to their ability to perform everyday activities that others take for granted,” Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations, and HUD is committed to taking action if they fail to meet that obligation.”