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HUD   >   Press Room   >   Press Releases   >   2013   >   HUDNo.13-170

HUD No. 13-170
Shantae Goodloe
(202) 708-0685

FOR RELEASE
Monday
November 18, 2013

HUD CHARGES NEW YORK HOUSING PROVIDER WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST RESIDENT
WITH DISABILITIES WHO NEEDED A SUPPORT ANIMAL

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)announced today that it is charging the East River Housing Corporation in New York, NY,with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying a request from a tenant with disabilities to reside in her apartment with a medically-prescribed support animal. HUD’s charge alleges that East River employees ignored the woman’s many requests to keep her emotional support dog in her apartment and moved to evict her when she refused to get rid of the dog.

The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.  This includes waiving pet limitation policies for persons who need emotional support animals.

“Support animals provide the comfort and stability that many people with disabilities need,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to comply with that obligation.”

HUD brings this charge on behalf of a tenant living in a 1672-unit housing cooperative owned by East River Housing Corporation.  The tenant allegedly submitted a reasonable accommodation request to keep a dog in her apartment with a letter from her doctor explaining that she was disabled and needed a support animal to alleviate symptoms associated with her disabilities. Nonetheless, the East River Housing Corporation allegedly refused to grant the woman’s request.  HUD’s charge further alleges that even after receiving multiple requests and documentation from multiple doctors, East River repeatedly told the woman to remove her support dog and eventually took action to evict her.

HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the woman for the harm caused her by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.

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 towww.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. 

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