A Citizen, Pro Se

One citizen’s experience: the failure of HUD/FHEO enforcement of civil rights under the Fair Housing Act


I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and my HUD landlord is going to renovate all the apartments in my complex.  The construction chemicals used in these planned renovations will make me have to choose between being homeless, poisoned, or dead.  See the articles with ‘MCS’ in their titles in the sidebar — and say a prayer for me!

The original front-page text follows —

In March 2007, my HUD Project-based Section 8 Landlord delivered two Service Animal contracts along with a letter threatening me with immediate eviction unless I signed them.  I knew this was a violation of my civil rights as a disabled resident — because in July of 2006 the Landlord had given me the same contracts when I did the paperwork for my HUD recertification, threatening to deprive me of housing by refusing to process the recertification (which would have lost my HUD subsidy and thrown me onto the streets, homeless.)

I stood my ground in 2006, and eventually the Landlord processed the recertification, so that my housing was safe for a year.  I had called in a Fair Housing Act civil rights complaint in 2006, but by the time I received the paperwork notifying me that the complaint had been filed, I was too sick and too intimidated by my Landlord’s manager to follow up — and I assumed that the Landlord wasn’t going to try again to force me to sign the discriminatory Service Animal contracts.  Boy, was I wrong!

And I was wrong to assume that the plain letter of the law, and of the HUD regulations governing civil rights for disabled people, had any connection to how HUD and their FHAP (enforcement) agencies actually operate in the real world.  You see, — fool that I am! —  I thought they would actually look at the evidence!  I thought they would gather facts impartially and arrive at what they call a ‘determination’ based on all the facts.  I mean, after all — that’s what the law says they’re supposed to do!

So now, more than a year after I phoned my complaint in to the HUD/FHEO Chicago office, the evidence still has not been entered into the HUD ‘TEAPOTS’ database, and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission has made an invalid ‘determination’ based on a case record that excludes almost all the evidence.  And what should have been one simple case has now become a complicated mixture of two issues —

The first issue, the case itself, is pretty straightforward, particularly in light of the HUD ALJ decision in Sec v Country Manor (2001). The Respondent’s (Landlord’s) documents (service animal contracts) are direct documentary evidence of imposing ‘terms and conditions of residency’ on a sub-class of protected tenants (disabled people with service animals). This direct evidence, along with every other piece of substantive evidence, has been excluded from the case file by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.

The larger issue here is the Indiana agency’s indifference to the case-handling requirements spelled out in 24 CFR — requirements which are the basis for their certification as a FHAP (enforcement) agency, as well as for their authority and their funding. The Indiana agency is treating the Federal law and regulations as optional — and the Regional and Federal levels of HUD/FHEO appear to be supporting them in this.

In recent years, the GAO published several reports on HUD/FHEO enforcement, and the National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report (‘Reconstructing Fair Housing’). All of these reports focused on the fact that there is no uniform nationwide enforcement of the Fair Housing Act — enforcement varies widely by Region, state, and locality. Thus any indivdual’s rights depend on where s/he lives, rather than on the Federally-defined standards.

So this is really not about service animals — or even about my personal rights. It is about the right of any citizen who is a member of a Fair Housing Act protected class to expect that any complaint s/he may bring will be investigated fairly and completely as the law and regulations describe.







  1. That’s really sad. They take the funding, but at the fundamental level, where their entire purpose for existing resides, they are useless to you. Leaving you to fend for yourself.

    Well, hang in there…

    vesticular from SP

    Comment by Justin — April 13, 2008 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  2. Witnessed. Stay strong!

    dirkster42 from SP

    Comment by Dirk — April 17, 2008 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  3. I am 62 years old, visually impaired. My HUD landlord, after two years of haggling gave reasonible accomadation for my assit animal. He then rewrote the lease stating my animal must be caged at all times. When I refused to cage a working animal, the landlord evicted me, effective 7/30/08. HUD and the local court supported the action,, even after my doctors states I do indeed suffer from severe hemmoraging in my eyes and the strain of an eviction would not be condusive to my health. I was not allowed to participate in the court activities, and my witnesses, advocacy and reader were told to leave the court.
    In addition to this blatant ADA II violation, my landlord had entered by flat 18 times without knocking, without notice even on holiday when I was in bed and announce “Inspection.” He would then proceed to actually search cupboards and drawers and move appliances and furniture about.
    This retalitory action was based becaused in addition to the service animal issued, charged the landlord with severe rent overcharges, based upon the HUD Rent Calculator. This warm and caring landlord also refused and returned oversize first class mail including diabetic medical supplies and braille lessons. One again, the local municipal court supported the Kenmore Municipal Housing Authority with no regards to Tenats’ Rights or ADA Laws.
    My question is if HUD Operations do not support ADA, why do they receive funding and subsidies on the premise they are addressing the needs of the disabled in the community? Who enforces the laws and who indeed champions the needs of the low income, elderly and disabled.

    Comment by William Nichols — July 21, 2008 @ 10:28 am | Reply

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