PHA Not Liable for Racial Discrimination
Facts: An African-American resident who lived for many years in housing provided by the local PHA was responsible for paying rent in the amount of $50 per month. And he had subsisted on a “Zero Income Certification” in which he certified that he was receiving no income from any source.
The resident sued the PHA for racial discrimination, claiming that he was required to perform community service by the PHA while other residents were not and that he was singled out and required to pay a smoking deposit that white residents weren’t required to pay. The PHA asked the judge for a judgment without a trial in its favor.
Ruling: A Washington district court granted the PHA’s request.
Reasoning: The court ruled that the resident hadn’t presented enough evidence to proceed on any discrimination or disparate treatment claim. He didn’t show that anyone else in a similar situation was treated differently. The court acknowledged that a claim could be based on his theory that he was required to pay a smoking deposit that white residents weren’t required to pay. But he presented no evidence whatsoever to support this theory. And a claim may have been based on his theory that he was required to perform community service, but he didn’t provide any evidence to suggest that other residents were treated differently.
According to the court, it appeared that the resident performed no community service and was eventually exempted from the requirement after he began receiving disability benefits. Thus, no reasonable fact finder could conclude that the resident was discriminated against or denied any accommodation necessary to the use and enjoyment of his unit.
- Lear v. Seattle Housing Authority, March 2014