WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the former owners and managers of Valley View Apartments in Longview, Wash., to settle allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act by intentionally discriminating against an individual with a disability. Under the settlement, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the defendants must pay a total of $35,000 to the complainant.
The lawsuit originated from charges filed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on behalf of a tenant of Valley View Apartments. In 2004, the tenant, who has a mobility impairment that limits his ability to enter or exit a car, asked to use two contiguous parking spaces in the apartment complex’s lot until a handicap accessible space became available. The complaint alleged that the former owners and managers of the apartments, John E. and Shirley L. Price, violated the Fair Housing Act when they intentionally discriminated against the tenant by refusing his request and by initiating retaliatory eviction proceedings. The complaint also alleged that the tenant’s request was reasonable and necessary to afford him an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling.
"Individuals with disabilities have the basic right to expect reasonable accommodations that allow them access to housing. This settlement is a significant award for a case involving housing discrimination against a lone individual, and it should send a strong message to landlords that they must take all requests for reasonable accommodations very seriously," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division.
"The fact that people continue to be denied housing in the 21st century because of their disability is unacceptable," said John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This conduct has been illegal for more than 20 years, and we intend to enforce the full extent of the law."
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.