WASHINGTON – May 6, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a settlement, including payment of $100,000 in compensation, with the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, resolving allegations that the city unlawfully evicted residents with disabilities from their home.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and requires that reasonable accommodations to policies be provided when the accommodations are needed because of a disability. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal financial assistance, including cities like Scranton. In addition, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all activities, services and programs of public entities.
“Persons with disabilities shouldn’t be subjected to the rigid city ordinances that have the practical effect of limiting their housing options,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We’re pleased that the city has entered into this agreement and look forward to working with its leaders as they strive to meet their obligation to comply with federal fair housing laws.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when Oxford House, Inc., a non-profit organization that offers housing for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, together with the owner of the subject rental unit, Chris and Rob Properties, LLC, filed a complaint alleging that the city of Scranton violated fair housing laws on the basis of disability.
Specifically, Oxford House and Chris and Rob Properties alleged that Scranton’s enforcement of a discriminatory ordinance to condemn their recovery home caused the eviction of six residents with disabilities without notice or an opportunity to find alternative housing, and in turn deprived them of the necessary shelter, resources, and support to continue to facilitate their recovery. Oxford House and Chris and Rob Properties also alleged that the city failed to respond to its request that the property be restored to operation as a reasonable accommodation for these displaced disabled residents.
Under the terms of the agreement, the city of Scranton will pay a total of $100,000 to the complainants. Oxford House will use the money, in part, to compensate the disabled residents aggrieved by the city’s actions and to further Oxford House’s mission to provide affordable housing and support for people who are recovering from substance abuse or alcoholism. Chris and Rob Properties will use the money, in part, to help restore the subject rental unit to operation as a recovery home for disabled individuals.
The city of Scranton will also amend its ordinance to provide a way to identify and accommodate residents with disabilities prior to their displacement; develop a city-wide reasonable accommodation policy; and provide fair housing training to all city officials who perform code enforcement or deal with licensing and permits.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android devices.