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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF COLORADO


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

NO.:00-N-2543

HOUSING AUTHORITY of the City of
AURORA, COLORADO,
     Defendant.

___________________________________

CONSENT DECREE

The United States filed this action on behalf of Tanya Harris and her minor son Anthony Harris to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq. The complaint alleged that the Defendant, Housing Authority of the City of Aurora, Colorado (AHA), discriminated against Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris by refusing to make reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, practices, and services when it denied Tanya Harris a portable Section 8 voucher.

On or about December 13, 1995, Tanya Harris, individually and on behalf of her minor son, Anthony Harris, timely filed complaints with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a) against her prior landlord, Aurora East Apartments, and AHA. The complaint against Aurora East Apartments was settled pursuant to a Conciliation Agreement dated July 16, 1997. The complaint against AHA alleged that the Defendant improperly refused to grant Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris a reasonable accommodation necessary to allow them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling when the Defendant did not provide Tanya Harris a Section 8 certificate or voucher.

As required by Section 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (hereinafter the "Secretary") conducted an investigation of the AHA complaint, and attempted conciliation without success. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Therefore, on September 29, 2000, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(2)(A), charging the Housing Authority of the City of Aurora, Colorado with engaging in discriminatory practices in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604.

On October 4, 2000, the Defendant elected to have the charges addressed in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a) instead of an administrative hearing. Based on the Defendant's election to proceed in federal court, the United States then filed this suit, as Plaintiff, on behalf of the aggrieved persons, Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris, against AHA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(1).

In addition, on or about December 13, 1995, Tanya Harris, individually and on behalf of her minor son, Anthony Harris, timely filed complaints with HUD pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794(a), and pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §12132, alleging that the Defendant improperly refused to grant Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris a reasonable accommodation. On or about April 23, 2001, HUD made a final determination of noncompliance under Section 504 in the case entitled Tanya Harris v. Aurora Housing Authority, HUD Case Number 08-96-01-016-370 and under the ADA in the case entitled Tanya Harris v. Aurora Housing Authority, HUD Case Number 08-96-12-003-400. On or about April 25, 2001, HUD referred the Section 504 and ADA complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice for appropriate action.

In 1995, Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris lived in an AHA subsidized Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation rental apartment in Aurora, Colorado owned and managed by Aurora East Apartments. On September 15, 1995, police attempted to arrest a man who was in Tanya Harris' apartment on suspicion of murder. A ten-hour standoff occurred during which time the man held Anthony Harris in the apartment. Ultimately, the police entered the apartment, took custody of Anthony Harris and arrested the man. Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris allege, as a result of the incident, that both of them developed and continue to have at this time Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Tanya Harris alleges that she made requests to AHA for assistance to transfer to another AHA program, Section 8 voucher and certificate, so as to move into a different unit in a different program. AHA asserts it attempted to work with Harris to enable her to move into a different unit. At some point, Tanya Harris left her apartment. Tanya Harris, on November 8, 1995, based on an allegation that she and her son had PTSD arising from the September 15, 1995 incident, requested that AHA give her a Section 8 certificate or voucher. On November 15, 1995, AHA denied Tanya Harris' November 8, 1995 request.

The United States and AHA now agree that this matter as it relates solely to the United States as the plaintiff should be settled and resolved without further litigation. Accordingly, the U.S. and AHA consent to the entry of this Consent Decree, subject to approval and entry by the Court.

This Consent Decree is not intended to be, is not, and shall not be construed as, an admission of any liability and AHA denies any wrong doing on its part.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED AS FOLLOWS:

  1. Injunctive Relief.

    1. The Defendant, its agents, employees, successors, and assigns, as well as any other person in active concert or participation with them, are hereby permanently enjoined from unlawfully discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap in any aspect of the administration of its housing programs. AHA agrees to comply with the Fair Housing Act, Section 504, HUD's implementing regulations at 24 C.F.R. Parts 8 and 100, the ADA, and the implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 35, in the operation of its housing programs.

    2. With respect to any housing accommodations, facilities, services, financial aid, or other benefits in its federally-funded housing programs, AHA agrees to refrain from, and do all things possible to assure that any sub-recipients refrain from, any acts that have the purpose or the effect of subjecting qualified and protected persons with disabilities, as defined by law, to unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability, including:

      1. Denying a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, the housing, aid, benefit, or service;

      2. Failing to afford a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, the housing, aid, benefit, or service that is not equal to that afforded to others;

      3. Failing to provide a qualified individual with a disability any housing, aid, benefit, or service that is not as effective in affording such individual an equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as that provided to others; (to the extent compliance with this subpart requires granting a reasonable accommodation, such accommodation shall be granted unless such action would result in an unreasonable financial or administrative burden on AHA)

      4. Providing different or separate housing, aid, benefits, or services to individuals with disabilities from that provided to others unless such action is necessary to provide qualified individuals with disabilities with housing, aid, benefits, or services that are as effective as those provided to others;

      5. Providing significant assistance to an agency, organization, or person that discriminates on the basis of disability in any aspect of a federally-assisted activity;

      6. Denying a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate as a member of a planning or advisory board based on their disability status;

      7. Denying a dwelling to an otherwise qualified renter because of a disability that he/she may have;

      8. Limiting, in any manner, a qualified individual with a disability in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity afforded to others; (to the extent compliance with this subpart requires granting a reasonable accommodation, such accommodation shall be granted unless such action would result in an unreasonable financial or administrative burden on AHA)

      9. Utilizing criteria or methods of administration for the purpose of subjecting qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of their disabilities.

    3. The Defendant shall consider any and all requests for accommodations in its application of rules and policies and in its practices in the administration of the Defendant's housing programs in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.

      Toward this end, the Defendant and all persons and entities over whom it has authority or control shall ensure the following without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap:

      1. All dwellings administered by them will be made available to all persons without unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap;

      2. Upon what can be reasonably interpreted to be a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification, reasonable accommodations or modifications will be made in rules, policies, practices, or services, that may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive, use and enjoy assistance or dwellings administered by them. A failure to make such accommodations or modifications constitutes discrimination;

      3. They shall communicate with all of their prospective housing assistance applicants and recipients of housing or assistance without discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap concerning the availability of and the requirements for obtaining assistance or dwellings administered by them;

      4. They shall not make, print, or publish, any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the administration of any program that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap; and

      5. They shall not maintain, implement, effectuate, or countenance, directly or indirectly, any policy or practice that makes any restriction on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap.

    4. AHA shall not intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any person for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 or the ADA, or because he or she has made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 or the ADA.

    5. Within sixty (60) days of the date of the entry of the Consent Decree, the Defendant must show it has set out, in writing, objective, uniform, and specific guidelines concerning reasonable accommodations and modifications for persons with disabilities in the administration of the Defendant's housing programs including:

      1. Provisions for accepting and processing requests for accommodations in and modifications of its housing policies and practices;

      2. Provisions for acknowledging and processing, not only clearly worded requests for accommodations in and modifications of its housing policies and practices, but also any communications that reasonably put an employee of AHA on notice that a person may have a disability that may need an accommodation in or modification of housing policies and practices under the Fair Housing Act, Section 504, or the ADA;

      3. Provisions regarding the confidentiality of any medical information provided or obtained;

      4. Information on the identification of the "Section 504 Coordinator" pursuant to Section 504 and the person identified by AHA to receive and process reasonable accommodation requests pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, Section 504, and the ADA, including his or her address and telephone number. AHA shall publicly identify the employee(s) selected as its "Section 504 Coordinator;"

      5. Provisions for coordination between the individual(s) identified in paragraph A.5.d. and the housing programs coordinators, managers, and staff;

      6. A provision that each request for reasonable accommodation or modification and response thereto be fully documented in AHA's participant files;

      7. A provision that the requested modification of accommodation shall be granted unless the AHA has explicit evidence of one of the following: (i) information that the person to be accommodated does not have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (ii) information that indicates that the request is not reasonable because it would constitute a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or activity; or (iii) information that indicates that the request is not reasonable because it would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden;

      8. Provisions for providing assistance in locating available accessible dwelling units to families that include individuals with disabilities in need of such;

      9. A provision that all requests be acknowledged, in writing, within seven (7) days of AHA's receipt of the request; and

      10. A provision that requesters be notified, in writing, of the decisions regarding their request within fourteen (14) days of AHA's receipt of the request and, if a request is denied, an explanation for such denial shall be included in this written notification.

      The Defendant shall forward these written guidelines to the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Attn: 175-13-142, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998, for approval. The United States shall have thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of the written guidelines to respond with an approval or objection. If the United States objects to the proposed written guidelines and proposes changes, AHA shall have thirty (30) days from receipt of the changes to agree to such. If an agreement is not reached, the United States and AHA shall confer in an effort to resolve their differences before bringing the matter before the court.

      If, during the term of this agreement, the Defendant proposes to make changes to the written guidelines, it shall notify the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. The United States shall have thirty (30) days from the date of notification to respond to any proposed change(s). If the United States does not object to the Defendant's proposal within those thirty (30) days, the changes will take effect. If the United States objects to the proposed change(s), the change(s) shall not be effected unless otherwise ordered by the court. The United States and AHA shall confer in an effort to resolve their differences before bringing the matter before the court.

    6. The Defendant shall provide its written guidelines, outlined immediately above in paragraph A.5., to all prospective and actual tenants or recipients of housing assistance administered by the Defendant for the term of this Consent Decree. The Defendant shall disseminate the written guidelines at least when it gives out applications, takes in applications or when assistance is granted, as well as, put it annually in the AHA Newsletter which is provided to everyone receiving AHA assistance. The Defendant shall also disseminate, along with the written guidelines, the identification, address, and telephone number of the person(s) to whom reasonable accommodation or modification requests should be submitted, including such individual(s) identified in paragraph A.5.d. The Defendant shall also disseminate, either in or with the written guidelines, a reference to Section 100.204 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Regulations: Implementation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988; Final Rule; 24 C.F.R. Part 14 et al., Federal Register, Vol. 54, No. 3, January 23, 1989 at 3289 (HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations), so long as they are in effect.

    7. AHA shall process, pursuant to the written guidelines, all requests made of it that can be reasonably interpreted to involve a request for reasonable accommodations or modifications, even if such requests do not use the terms "reasonable accommodation" or "reasonable modification." Each such request shall be evaluated pursuant to the written guidelines and the current reasonable accommodation and modification law.

    8. AHA shall take all necessary steps to assure effective communication with applicants, beneficiaries, and members of the public, including furnishing appropriate auxiliary aids when necessary, as required by 24 C.F.R. §8.6(a). AHA shall install a Tele-communications Device for the Deaf (TDD), or another equally effective communication system for individuals with hearing impairments, in its offices within thirty (30) days of the date the Consent Decree is entered, if AHA has not already done so. Within ten (10) days of the installation of the TDD or another equally effective communication system, AHA shall ensure that is has trained its staff on the use of the device/system and shall advertise the availability of the device/system.

    9. AHA shall adopt and implement procedures adequate to ensure that interested persons, including persons with impaired vision or hearing, can obtain information concerning the existence and location of accessible services, activities, and facilities, as required by 24 C.F.R. §8.6(b).

    10. AHA shall document its efforts to satisfy the notice requirements contained in 24 C.F.R. §8.54, outlining the steps taken to notify those with hearing and vision impairments.

    11. AHA shall not discriminate against qualified individuals with handicaps in employment, as required by 24 C.F.R. §8.10.

    12. AHA shall make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee with handicaps or disabilities, as required by 24 C.F.R. §8.11.

    13. AHA shall comply with the applicable requirements concerning employment criteria and pre-employment inquiries, as set forth at 24 C.F.R. §§8.12 and 8.13.

    14. AHA shall place the phrase "Equal Opportunity Employer" or a logo type in all future advertisements for employment. AHA shall place the phrase "Equal Housing Opportunity" or a logo type in all future advertisements for housing. An Equal Opportunity Poster that includes telephone numbers for HUD's fair housing hotline shall be conspicuously displayed in AHA's offices.

  2. Training

    1. The Defendant shall inform all employees and agents involved in the administration of its housing programs about the prohibitions on discrimination imposed by the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 and the ADA.

    2. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of the Consent Decree, all employees and agents of the Defendant involved in the administration of its housing programs shall be given a copy of, and required to read, the Consent Decree and the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations and within thirty (30) days after the approval of the written guidelines established pursuant to paragraph A.5. of this Consent Decree, said employees and agents shall also be given a copy of, and required to read, the written guidelines on reasonable accommodations and modifications referenced in paragraph A.5. Once they have reviewed the Consent Decree, the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations and the written guidelines established under paragraph A.5., said employees and agents shall sign a statement indicating that they have received, read, and understood the Consent Decree, the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations and the written guidelines established under paragraph A.5. Such signed statements shall be forwarded to the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Attn: 175-13-142, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998, within three (3) months of the date of entry of this Consent Decree.

    3. For the duration of the Consent Decree any new employee or agent of the Defendant involved in the administration of its housing programs shall be given a copy of and required to read the Consent Decree, the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations, and the written guidelines on reasonable accommodations and modifications referenced in paragraph A.5. No later than thirty (30) days after commencing employment, such employees and agents shall review the Consent Decree, the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations and the written guidelines established under paragraph A.5. and sign a statement indicating that they have received, read, and understood the Consent Decree, the reference to the HUD Reasonable Accommodation Regulations and the written guidelines established under paragraph A.5. When such signed statements shall be forwarded to the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, Attn: 175-13-142, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998, no later than the end of the next quarter (every three months) for the duration of the Consent Decree.

    4. Beginning three (3) months after the entry of this Consent Decree and continuing once a year thereafter for the duration of the Consent Decree all employees and agents of the Defendant involved in the administration of its housing programs shall attend training on fair housing laws, the written guidelines, the requirements of Section 504 and the ADA, including recognizing requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications, evaluating requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications, and responding to requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications. The training organization or individual and the substance of the training shall be approved by the United States. If any employee or agent of the Defendant has received or participated in training within six (6) months prior to the entry of this Consent Decree, such training may fulfill the requirement of the Consent Decree, as long as the substance and the trainers are approved by the United States.

  3. Reporting Requirements

    1. For a period of three (3) years from the entry of the Consent Decree, in the event that the Defendant denies a request for reasonable accommodation in its application of rules, policies, practices, or services in the administration of its housing programs, the Defendant shall send a letter to the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Attn: 175-13-142, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998 identifying (a) the name, address, and telephone number of the person making the request; (b) the nature of the request; and (c) the reasons for the denial.

    2. On the first business day of the sixth month after entry of the Consent Decree and continuing every six months thereafter for the duration of the Consent Decree, AHA shall submit a written report and supporting documentation that AHA has performed the actions required by the Consent Decree. This report and supporting documentation shall be submitted to the Chief of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Attn: 175-13-142, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998.

  4. Inspection of Documents

    For the duration of this Consent Decree, the Defendant shall preserve all records pertaining to the Defendant's obligations under the Consent Decree. Upon reasonable notice to the Defendant's counsel, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice shall be permitted to inspect and copy all such records at reasonable times in order to monitor the Defendant's compliance with the Consent Decree. This right of inspection granted to the U.S. Department of Justice shall not limit any rights of other federal agencies under separate authority to inspect AHA's records.

  5. Jurisdiction and Administration

    Only the action by the United States against AHA is dismissed without prejudice. This Consent Decree shall remain in effect for a period of three (3) years following the date this Consent Decree is entered and becomes final, and the Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action for purposes of resolving any disputes that may arise under the Consent Decree. The parties to this Consent Decree shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with the Consent Decree prior to bringing such matters before the Court for resolution. The signatures of the parties to this Consent Decree constitute waivers by each executing party of any right to challenge the validity of this Consent Decree at any time.


DATED this ______________ day of _______________, 2001.


BY THE COURT:

__________________________
EDWARD W. NOTTINGHAM
United States District Judge


AGREED TO BY:

For Plaintiff, United States of America For Defendant, Housing Authority of the City of Aurora, Colorado


Isabelle M. Thabault
Deputy Chief
Kevin J. Kijewski
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998M
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-4713

James F. Wagnlander
Dena L. Silliman, Of Counsel
Robert M. Liechty, Of Counsel
Wagenlander & Heisterkamp, LLC
Mile High Center, Suite 1202
1700 Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80290
(303) 832-6511

Nina Wang
Assistant United States Attorney
1255 Seventeenth Street, Suite 700
Denver, Colorado 80202
(303) 454-0100


Document Signed: June 11, 2001.

General Information Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
 
Leadership
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Contact
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section
(202) 514-4713
TTY - 202-305-1882
FAX - (202) 514-1116
To Report an Incident of Housing Discrimination:
1-800-896-7743
Mailing Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Email: fairhousing@usdoj.gov

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