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Shocking fair housing violation charges filed today

Famous Miami housing institute charged

wheelchair rampToday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Development filed charges against the Urban League of Greater Miami for allegedly “refusing to make one of its units accessible for a disabled veteran. HUD brings the charge on behalf of a 71 year-old double amputee veteran, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. In addition, [they] allegedly refused to transfer the veteran to an accessible unit and threatened to evict him after he sought assistance from the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s office.”

This case comes on the heels of HUD filing charges against a Philadelphia homeowner for discriminating against a single mother earlier this week.

Why these charges are shocking

These charges are shocking because according to the Miami NewTimes, the Urban League played a key role in desegregating public housing Dade County, has advocated for fair housing and has been behind housing projects in Dade County for over 70 years.

As readers of this site know, Fair Housing protects those with disabilities from being discriminated against be it in the form of rule changes, policies or practices that allow the disabled to fully enjoy their home. The Fair Housing Act also prohibits coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person for having exercised their fair housing rights.

“Veterans deserve our thanks and respect whether their service to the nation was this year or fifty years ago,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Moreover, landlords have a legal obligation to grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations. HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet these fair housing responsibilities.”

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According to HUD’s charge, the veteran’s social worker made several requests to the Urban League Housing Corp. to install accessible features, including wider doorways, or to transfer him to an accessible unit, but was refused. Shortly thereafter, the tenant contacted the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s Office for assistance. After a staff person from the Commissioner’s office visited the property, the veteran was transferred to another unit, that was not accessible. When the veteran moved back into his original unit six months later, the unit had still not been made accessible and its stove had been removed.

The HUD 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 found guilty, the Urban League will have to pay attorney fees, damages and possible fines.

“[The charges are] not true,” Urban League President T. Willard Fair, who has served in that post since 1963, told Miami NewTimes. “I’ve spent all my life fighting against discrimination, so I’m shocked that anyone would bring these charges against me.”

CC Licensed image courtesy of lwr via Flickr.com.

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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. BawldGuy

    April 21, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I’ve learned never to be shocked by the Urban League’s hypocrisy.

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