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HUD No. 18-089
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE
Wednesday
August 22, 2018

FLORIDA HOUSING PROVIDER AGREES TO PAY WOMAN $100,000, SETTLING CLAIMS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved a Conciliation Agreement between Area Housing Commission, a public housing authority in Pensacola, Florida, and a female resident resolving allegations that one of its maintenance workers sexually harassed the woman. The agreement also settles allegations that the Commission retaliated against the woman when she reported the alleged sexual harassment. Read the agreement.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider, including a public housing authority and its staff, to sexually harass a tenant. This includes creating a severe or pervasive hostile housing environment, or conditioning housing or housing-related services on the tenant's acquiescence to sexual demands. The Act also prohibits retaliating against persons who complain about housing discrimination.

"When people think of home, they think about safety, security, a place to create lasting memories - not about being subjected to unwanted sexual advances or degrading treatment," said Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "No one should have to suffer the humiliation and fear sexual harassment causes in order to keep a roof over her head, and HUD is committed to taking action to address it whenever and wherever it occurs."

The case came to HUD's attention when the woman filed a complaint alleging that one of Area Housing Commission's maintenance workers subjected her to a severe incident of sexual harassment. The woman's complaint further alleged that after she reported the incident to Commission authorities, they retaliated against her.

Under the terms of the agreement, Area Housing Commission will pay the woman $100,000, move her to a three-bedroom apartment once an appropriate unit becomes available, and provide her with a parking space close to her unit. In addition, the Commission will ensure that a female employee is in the woman's apartment anytime maintenance work is being performed, create a policy prohibiting sexual harassment of applicants, tenants and voucher holders, establish a formal sexual harassment complaint procedure, and provide sexual harassment training for employees.

Last month, HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of housing-related sexual harassment and to reach persons who are victimized by it. The goal of this campaign is to make it easier for victims all over the country to find resources and report harassment. Watch the public service announcement (PSA). HUD and DOJ are also providing training and best practice materials on preventing and addressing sexual and other discriminatory harassment in housing to public housing staff, private landlords who accept housing vouchers, and residents of public housing and voucher housing.

April 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In commemoration, HUD, local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country have coordinated a variety of activities to enhance awareness of fair housing rights, highlight HUD's fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. For a list of planned activities, log onto www.hud.gov/fairhousingis50.

Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

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