HUD Charges White Plains Co-Op With Discrimination
John Jordan | May 5, 2016
WHITE PLAINS—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has leveled charges of housing discrimination against a White Plains cooperative—Tompkins Manor at 505 Central Park Ave.—for refusing to grant an exception to its policies that would allow a person with disabilities to buy a unit there.
The case came to HUD’s attention after a unidentified person with disabilities filed a complaint alleging that he was denied the opportunity to buy a unit at Tompkins Manor, a 155-unit cooperative in White Plains because of his disabilities. According to HUD, the man’s parents created asupplemental needs irrevocable trust to provide for the man’s care. In August 2013, the man and his parents attempted to purchase a cooperative unit using the trust as the owner. According to the charge, 505 Central Avenue Corp., which owns Tompkins Manor, rejected the application because the cooperative did not permit ownership by trust. The family allegedly asked the company to make an exception to its ownership rule as a reasonable accommodation, but the ownership refused to do so.
According to the complaint, West Ex Associates Inc. of 119 East Hartsdale Ave. was the manager of the property. Representatives of the property ownership could not be reached for comment at press time.
“Persons with disabilities depend on reasonable accommodations to level the playing field when it comes to finding a place to call home. Refusing to provide them denies access to housing and it violates the law,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action when owners and homeowner associations fail to meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of 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 case is heard in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainants.
Last year, disability was the most common basis of fair housing complaints filed with HUD and Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies (HUD partners,) cited as a basis for more than half, or nearly 55%, of all complaints.
HUD’s Office of Regional Counsel for New England, which has jurisdiction over the case, issued the Charge of Discrimination on April 26.
The Fair Housing Act protects residents with disabilities who request reasonable accommodations in policies or practices. Additionally, the law makes it illegal to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability.
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) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
Photo Caption Tompkins Manor