California Housing Authorities Settle Disability Discrimination Claims

HUD recently announced a settlement with two housing authorities in California to resolve allegations that they discriminated against a resident with disabilities by allegedly refusing to give her more time to find suitable housing that would accept her Section 8 housing voucher.

When trying to move from one jurisdiction to another, the resident alleged that the housing authorities denied her reasonable accommodation request for more time to find suitable housing that would accept her voucher under the Housing Choice Voucher program (commonly known as Section 8). As a result, she claimed that she lost her voucher.

The settlement resolves allegations that the housing authorities violated the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the settlement, the housing authorities agreed to pay $10,000 to the woman, reinstate her housing voucher, allow her to move the voucher from one jurisdiction to the other, and give her more time to locate and lease housing.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or discriminating in the terms or conditions of housing services, including by refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for persons with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

"For residents with disabilities, being allowed a longer period to find housing can be the difference between having a roof over their heads and finding themselves on the street," Anna María Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "This case reminds housing providers of the seriousness of their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 and demonstrates HUD’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers follow through on these responsibilities."

Disability is the most common basis of complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD and its state and local partners investigated more than 4,500 disability-related complaints, or nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints.