|HUD No. 21-162
HUD Public Affairs
September 29, 2021
HUD Charges Houston Rental Property Owners with Discriminating Against Person with Disabilities
WASHINGTON - The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged the owners of several residential properties in Houston, TX, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent a house for use as a group home for persons with mental disabilities. Read HUD’s Charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying housing to persons with disabilities or subjecting them to discriminatory terms or conditions. This prohibition includes the refusal by owners of rental properties to permit their use for operation of group homes that allow persons with disabilities to live in the community.
“Rental property owners do not have the right to unlawfully deny housing based on their perceptions about persons with disabilities,” said Demetria McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD remains committed to taking action whenever individuals in a position to control access to housing fail to meet their responsibility to comply with the nation’s housing laws.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a Texas Health and Human Services Commission contractor who provides housing and related services for persons with severe mental disabilities filed a complaint, alleging that she was denied the opportunity to rent a single-family home because her clients have mental disabilities. HUD’s charge, filed on behalf of the woman, alleges that the owner stated to her: “[O]ur neighborhood does not want those type of people. We are trying to get them out of our neighborhood.”
“The Fair Housing Act affords all persons the opportunity to enjoy housing free from discrimination, including people with mental disabilities who are in need of the safe and stable environment a group home can provide,” said Damon Smith, HUD’s General Counsel. “As this charge demonstrates, HUD will protect the rights of persons with disabilities to live in their communities, free from unlawful discrimination.”
HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the judge may award damages to the complainant for losses that have resulted from the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
People 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) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing.