Owner Not Liable for Discrimination
Facts: An occupant sued the local PHA for discrimination for failure to lease him the unit in which he claimed he had resided with his mother before her death.
As a child, the occupant moved with his mother and her husband into the unit. But records show that he moved out of the unit in 1976. His mother continued to live in the unit after her son's departure and until she died in July 2007. At the time of her death, she was the unit’s tenant of record and its sole authorized occupant.
In early September 2007, the occupant visited the site’s management office and requested that he be allowed to succeed his mother as the tenant of record. He claimed that he had resided in the unit for 10 years and that his income was minimal. He admitted that his mother hadn’t listed him as an occupant in the affidavit of income that she had provided annually to the PHA.
In limited circumstances, after a tenant dies or leaves a unit, the succession by a remaining family member to the tenant’s lease is permitted. To obtain remaining family member status, the relative must lawfully have become part of the tenant's household, obtain written permission from the site manager, have remained in continuous occupancy of the unit for at least one year from the date when written permission was given, and be otherwise eligible for public housing.
The PHA asked the court for a judgment without a trial in its favor.
Ruling: A New York district court ruled in favor of the PHA.
Reasoning: The court decided that the PHA had legitimate nondiscriminatory explanations for the denying the occupant's request. The PHA’s records indicated that he had left the unit in 1976; his mother had never sought to add him as a member of the household and that she hadn’t reported his occupancy as was required in her annual affidavit of income. Therefore, he had never become part of the family composition--that is, he had never legally become a part of his mother's household for purposes of the PHA’s remaining family member policy.
- Williams v. New York City Housing Authority, July 2012