Nebraska Owner Settles Disability Discrimination Complaint
The owner and managers of a 56-unit, HUD-assisted townhome complex in Nebraska recently agreed to pay $22,500 to a former resident to settle a HUD complaint.
The resident, who used a wheelchair and walker, claimed that the community failed to accommodate her request to transfer to the first available ground-floor unit. The resident also claimed that management denied requests for a parking space and a ramp to ease her access to her unit. In addition to her claims under the Fair Housing Act, the resident accused the community of violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits providers of federally assisted housing from discriminating against persons with disabilities.
The resident alleged that she requested a ground-floor unit when she moved into the complex, but was told none were available. She said she agreed to move in, provided she could move to a ground-floor unit when one became available.
According to the resident, a unit meeting her needs became available, but the manager leased it to a staff person who had requested the unit after the resident did. Remaining in the inaccessible unit, the resident alleged that she suffered significant injuries while negotiating the stairs to reach her bedroom and bathroom.
Months later, the resident transferred to a unit on the ground floor, but she said the management refused her repeated requests for a ramp to ease access to her unit, a parking space for her handicapped-accessible van, and an accessible route from the parking lot to her unit. Allegedly, she eventually moved out because of these access barriers.
In addition to the $22,500 payment, the settlement calls on the community to redesign an accessible unit located on an accessible route, and leading to an accessible parking space; and to alter the complex’s seven designated accessible parking spaces to include curb cuts, and post signage marking the spaces.
“Persons with disabilities aren’t asking for special treatment when they request reasonable accommodations,” HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña said in a statement. “Ground-floor rooms, designated parking spaces, and ramps may be necessary for persons with disabilities to conduct everyday activities and gain independence in their daily living. HUD is committed to ensuring that housing providers, federally assisted and otherwise, live up to their obligation to grant reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities when they are needed.”