The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with the Housing Authority of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut (HACB), doing business as Park City Communities, to resolve allegations that the housing authority discriminated against persons with disabilities in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act.
The Consent Order, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, requires HACB to institute broad reforms to safeguard the rights of individuals with disabilities, including revising its policies and processes for handling reasonable accommodation requests and developing an inventory of accessible units for tenants with mobility, vision, and hearing-related disabilities. The settlement also requires HACB to pay $1,500,000 to those hurt by its discriminatory practices and a $25,000 civil penalty to the United States.
“This settlement will ensure that tenants with disabilities have the same opportunity to use and enjoy their homes as everyone else,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Individuals who seek reasonable accommodations from the Housing Authority of Bridgeport will now have access to a process that is easier to navigate, provides timely responses, and includes all of the protections afforded by federal civil rights laws. In addition, by bringing its housing inventory into compliance with accessibility requirements for tenants with mobility, vision, and hearing-related impairments, the Housing Authority will be better able to meet the needs of its residents and community.”
“Our public housing authorities should be in the business of making life easier for people with disabilities, not harder,” said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham of the District of Connecticut. “We are pleased with this settlement and consent order, and we remain committed to pursuing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act in Connecticut.”
HACB owns and manages more than 2,500 units of public housing and administers more than 2,800 vouchers under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The lawsuit arose from a compliance review initiated by HUD. After issuing a determination of noncompliance and attempting resolution, HUD referred the case to the Justice Department.
The complaint, filed on Nov. 15, 2017, alleged that HACB failed to properly process, decide, and fulfill requests for reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. Federal law requires HACB to provide reasonable accommodations, such as physical modifications to public housing units, changes to program rules, or transfers to appropriate housing, when requested to meet a tenant or applicant’s disability-related needs. The complaint also alleged that HACB failed to provide a sufficient number of public housing units that are accessible to tenants with mobility, vision, or hearing-related disabilities.
Individuals who may have been victims of discrimination by HACB or who have information relevant to this case are encouraged to contact the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743 (for English, press 1, then mailbox 992; for Spanish, press 2, then mailbox 2) or by email at Community.Bridgeport@usdoj.gov. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the civil rights laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt
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