Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

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.

___________________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States 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.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§1345 and 1331 and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o). Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o) as Defendant is located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.
  3. The Defendant Housing Authority of the City of Aurora (hereinafter "AHA") is a body corporate and politic organized in accordance with the provisions of the Colorado Housing Authorities Law, C.R.S. §29-4-201, et seq. AHA was established pursuant to the city Code of the City of Aurora, Colorado Section 42-27 (Code 1979, §8-221) and City of Aurora Ordinance 75-19 for the purposes, with the powers, and subject to the restrictions set forth in the Colorado Housing Authorities Law. AHA is a quasi-municipal corporation which is empowered to operate, manage, lease and do all things necessary to provide low-income housing, including administration of Section 8 and other housing subsidy programs.
  4. Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris (the "Harrises") are individuals who in the fall of 1995 resided in site-based Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation rental housing subsidized by AHA at 1768 Billings, Number 202, Aurora, Colorado 80011.
  5. Tanya Harris and Anthony Harris both suffer from illnesses, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (hereinafter "PTSD"). The Harrises are handicapped within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(h).
  6. The site-based Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation rental housing subsidy program is administered by AHA and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter "HUD"). Housing obtained with a Section 8 or other housing subsidy, including units at 1768 Billings, Number 202, Aurora, Colorado, constitutes a "dwelling" within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
  7. On or about December 13, 1995, Tanya Harris, individually and on behalf of her minor son, Anthony Harris, timely filed a complaint with HUD pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). The complaint alleges that the Defendant improperly refused to grant the Harrises a reasonable accommodation necessary to allow them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  8. As required by Section 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (hereinafter the "Secretary") conducted an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), has 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, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604.
  9. On October 4, 2000, the Defendant elected to have the charges resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).
  10. In 1995, the Harrises lived in an AHA subsidized Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation rental apartment in Aurora, Colorado. On or about September 15, 1995, Tanya Harris' son, Anthony Harris, was taken hostage in the Harrises' apartment by a man wanted for murder. On that date, Anthony Harris was held hostage for ten hours. The man who held Anthony Harris hostage attempted suicide in Anthony Harris' presence. The man was found by police in a pool of his own blood, but alive. As a result of the incident, both Anthony and Tanya Harris developed and continue to have PTSD.
  11. On September 15, 1995, Tanya Harris, notified AHA that she was seeking payment for mental health therapy and that her son was physically and mentally abused as a result of the hostage taking.
  12. On October 26, 1995, Tanya Harris notified AHA that she was diagnosed with PTSD resulting from the hostage incident.
  13. Following the hostage and attempted suicide incident, Ms. Harris asked AHA several times to move her to a different unit because she and her son did not wish to return to the site of the trauma. AHA denied Tanya Harris' reasonable accommodation requests to move to a different unit.
  14. On or about November 8, 1995, Tanya Harris, through her attorney, formally requested a reasonable accommodation from AHA. Tanya Harris requested that her site-based Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation housing assistance be exchanged for a Section 8 certificate or voucher. The Harrises made the request so that they could move to different housing. On November 15, 1995, AHA denied this request for a reasonable accommodation.
  15. Tanya Harris' requests were reasonable and necessary, on account of her and her son's handicap status, to afford the Harrises an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. By refusing to grant the requested accommodations, the Defendant violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
  16. Tanya Harris and her son have suffered damages as a result of the Defendant's conduct as described herein.
  17. The discriminatory actions of the Defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Tanya Harris and her son.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the Defendant's discriminatory housing practices violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the Defendant, its officers, agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to Tanya Harris and her son and requires the Defendant to provide a Section 8 certificate/voucher housing subsidy to Tanya Harris and her son for as long as their eligibility for Section 8 assistance continues;
  3. Awards such damages as will fully compensate Tanya Harris and her son for all injury occasioned by the Defendant's denial of equal housing opportunity, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c); and
  4. Awards punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of the Defendant's conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612 (o)(3) and 3613(c).

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


Janet Reno
Attorney General

Thomas L. Strickland
United States Attorney

Bill Lann Lee
Assistant Attorney General

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

Joan A. Magagna
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

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


Document Filed: December 21, 2000 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Yes No