PHA Not Liable for Discrimination
Facts: When a resident lived in another county, the local PHA approved her reasonable accommodation request for a live-in aide. The PHA found that the resident has a permanent cognitive disorder and “needs 24 hours a day care to function normally.” The resident’s sister is her primary caregiver. And according to her doctor at the time, a two-bedroom unit for the resident and her sister would provide a reasonable accommodation for the resident’s disability.
The resident moved and sought a similar arrangement with another PHA. She made requests for a reasonable accommodation for both a live-in aide and a voucher for a two-bedroom unit. Although the PHA issued the voucher and approved her unit, the resident received a “denial letter” concerning her request for a live-in aide.
According to the PHA, the request was denied because when it contacted her healthcare provider for information about the resident’s disability needs, her doctor stated that although the resident is permanently disabled, she’s able to perform basic requirements of daily living on her own. Therefore, the live-in aide request was denied. However, this determination didn’t reverse the decision of the Housing Choice Voucher program to give the resident a two-bedroom voucher.
The resident then sued the PHA for discrimination, claiming that the denial of the live-in aide request excluded her from participation in services or deprives her of housing to which she’s entitled. The PHA asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Ruling: The district court for the District of Columbia granted the PHA’s request.
Reasoning: The court determined that the resident had no basis for a lawsuit. Nothing in her complaint indicated that the PHA denied her access to or participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program because of her disability. Nor did the resident claim that any action or omission by the PHA has barred her access to or participation in any program or service administered by the PHA.
The PHA provided the resident with a voucher for a two-bedroom unit and thus agreed to her desired living arrangement so that her sister can function as her live-in aide. The resident therefore didn’t demonstrate that she has suffered any actual injury arising from the PHA’s action or inaction. And without an actual injury, the resident doesn’t have a basis to sue the PHA for discrimination.
- Hardaway v. District of Columbia Housing Authority, July 2014