HUD Approves Discrimination Settlement Between Puerto Rico PHA and Residents
HUD recently announced that it has negotiated an agreement between the Puerto Rico Public Housing Authority (PRPHA) and its residents who have disabilities. The agreement resolves allegations that a site under PRPHA’s jurisdiction was inaccessible to persons with disabilities for more than a year because of inoperable elevators. Other allegations involved PRPHA refusing to accommodate residents with mobility impairments by actions such as moving them to first-floor units, and a claim that at least one elderly resident suffered an injury while climbing a set of stairs due to the lack of elevator service.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing because of a person’s disability and from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices. The case came to HUD’s attention when four residents with disabilities filed individual complaints alleging that PRPHA had refused to, among other things, install accessible toilets and fix inoperable elevators.
Under the terms of the agreement, PRPHA will spend $884,640 to repair existing inoperable elevators and install six new elevators, and pay $23,760 to the four residents who filed the initial complaint. In addition, $32,400 will be paid to 16 other residents with disabilities who were harmed by the prolonged elevator outages. The agreement also calls for the establishment of a new educational technology center at the complex, improvements to the children’s playground, and the creation of a $20,000 Victim’s Fund to compensate other disabled family members who have not yet been identified.