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HUD No. 14-140
Elena Gaona
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE
Monday
November 3, 2014

HUD SETTLES CLAIMS ALLEGING OWNER OF DEKALB APARTMENT COMPLEX DISCRIMINATED AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with University Village, the owner and operator of a 500-unit HUD-subsidized apartment complex in DeKalb, Illinois. As part of the agreement, University Village has agreed to pay $255,000 to settle allegations that it violated fair housing laws when it failed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities and retaliated against a resident with disabilities for requesting a reasonable accommodation.

The VCA is the result of complaints that were filed by HOPE Fair Housing Center, the RAMP Center for Independent Living and two residents with disabilities, which alleged that University Village made housing unavailable when it assigned a mobility impaired resident to a third-floor unit in a building with no elevator, and threatened her with eviction for having her adult daughter, who was serving as her caregiver, in the unit, even though she had documentation verifying her disability and need for the accommodation. University Village receives federal financial assistance from HUD in the form of project-based vouchers.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of a dwelling because of disability, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance be readily accessible to persons with disabilities and that they be granted the reasonable accommodations they need, including being allowed to have a live-in caregiver in a unit when it is necessary.

"No one with a disability should be denied the accommodations they need to fully enjoy their home," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This agreement reflects HUD's commitment to working with housing providers, including owners of HUD funded housing, to meet their obligation to comply with the nation's fair housing laws."

Under the terms of the agreement, University Village will pay $255,000, which includes attorney fees, to the two individuals who filed complaints and work with HOPE Fair Housing Center to develop a new reasonable accommodation policy. The complex will also conduct a needs assessment of current tenants and applicants who require assessable units to determine if their needs are being met and ensure that five percent of its units are fully accessible, either by constructing new units or converting existing units.

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