Housing Authority Not Responsible for Private Owner's Actions
Facts: A New York resident used a Housing Choice Voucher provided by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to subsidize his rent for a unit in a privately owned apartment building in the Bronx. The resident, who claims he is disabled and unable to walk up or down steps, went to court alleging discrimination against him as a disabled individual. He told the court the building's owner failed to provide him access from his apartment on the fourth floor to the street-level entrance between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. each day. He alleged that without an accommodation—access to the elevator at all hours—he has been left at times unable to get to or from his apartment because he is physically unable to climb steps. He also claimed that NYCHA illegally denied his requests for accommodation and assistance in resolving the elevator access problem.
Decision: The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit against the Housing Authority, but allowed the suit against the building owner to proceed.
Reasoning: The court concluded that NYCHA is not responsible under the law for the owner's alleged discrimination against the Section 8 resident simply because the agency administers the Section 8 program. “[T]he Court finds no avenue for [the resident] to sue NYCHA for failing to prevent [the private owner's] alleged discrimination.” The court scheduled further proceedings to determine if the owner is violating the Fair Housing Act by restricting the disabled resident's access to the elevator.
- DiNapoli v. DPA Wallace Ave. II, LLC and NYCHA, March 2009