October 5, 2011

Employing Persons With Disabilities Should Open Doors to Better Housing Opportunities

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Today’s guest blogger is Milton Turner, Vice Chair of Advocates for HUD Employees with Disabilities (AHED).

As the Vice Chair of HUD’s affinity group, Advocates for HUD Employees with Disabilities (AHED), I am proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2011. The theme for 2011,”Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities,” focuses on improving employment opportunities that lead to good jobs and a secure economic future for people with disabilities and the nation as a whole.”  Better jobs frequently open doors to opportunities for accessing better schools and better housing. 

However, persons with disabilities often find that doors to equal housing opportunities are illegally closed to them based on them having a disability. Last year alone, after conducting investigations of housing discrimination complaints filed based on disability, HUD issued several charges of discrimination based on disability, including:

● Charging a Chicago developer and architect with housing discrimination for failing to design and construct apartments to meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

● Charging an Albany, New York-area apartment management company with violating the Fair Housing Act by barring a child from using the apartment complex swimming pool in prohibiting her physician-prescribed service animal from accompanying her as a reasonable accommodation and retaliating against her family.

● Charging the owner and management company of a Walworth, Wisconsin apartment complex with discrimination for denying an accessible parking space to a tenant, who had an accessible parking placard, braces on both legs, and had difficulty walking.  Unable to use the designated accessible parking space, the tenant began parking in a space far from the entrance, causing him severe pain.  He slipped and fell on ice, causing an injury that required emergency medical attention. Not wanting to face another winter without accessible parking, the tenant moved.

● Charging Charles Schwab Bank with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to accept a loan application from the son of a Metairie, Louisiana, woman with disabilities. The son, who was acting with his mother’s power of attorney, tried to apply for a loan on his mother’s behalf, but was told that the bank did not accept powers of attorney for “incapacitated borrowers.  HUD and Charles Schwab Bank reached a $30,000 settlement in this case.  

These are just a few examples of the types of housing discrimination complaints HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) investigates.  FHEO administers and enforces federal laws and establishes policies that make sure all Americans have equal access to housing of their choice.  The preeminent law FHEO enforces, the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings and in other housing-related transactions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.

To report housing discrimination or for further information:

Call HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (Voice) or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY)

Visit us at: www.hud.gov/fairhousing

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