HUD Reaches Agreement With Rental Provider Over Fair Housing Act Violations

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has entered a Voluntary Compliance Agreement for Shore Hill Apartments resolving a compliance review concerning non-discrimination in marketing and tenanting procedures.

Shore Hill Apartments is a 558-unit multifamily property comprised of studio and one-bedroom units in Brooklyn, New York that provides affordable subsidized units through the Section 8 program for families with a member who is 62 or older or has a disability, including otherwise qualified families with children.

HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. HUD also enforces other federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

“Restrictive occupancy policies can limit housing opportunities for families in a manner that is discriminatory,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to ensuring that every eligible applicant has a meaningful opportunity to participate in HUD funded housing programs.”

This Agreement arises from a compliance review that was conducted by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) under Title VI and Section 504. FHEO opened the review based on information indicating disproportionately low participation rates of Black and Hispanic residents relative to the housing market area over decades, extending to prior owners of the property. The review sought to ensure eligible persons were not discriminated against in opportunities to learn about, apply to, and reside in HUD subsidized housing on the basis of race, color, or national origin. In particular, the review revealed the property’s occupancy standard restricted occupancy of studio units to a family size of one and one-bedroom units to a family size of two, contributing to denials based on race and deterring families as small as two persons from applying to the property. FHEO expanded the review to include Section 504 when the investigation revealed the property had a practice of denying families with heads of households under 62 years of age, without considering whether the household was otherwise eligible to apply to and reside in the property on the basis of disability.

The Agreement provides a fund in the amount of $510,000 to compensate individuals who were either denied due to the restrictive occupancy policy, or individuals with disabilities who were improperly denied housing. In addition, the Agreement requires creation of a new waitlist after robust marketing to those least likely to apply, committing a minimum of $10,000 towards advertising, outreach, and website development; affirmative agreement not to adopt an elderly preference and to consider equally for tenancy otherwise qualified applicants with disabilities and applicants aged 62 or over; and revising the property’s occupancy policy to be no more restrictive than local ordinance. This Agreement does not constitute admissions by the housing providers or evidence of a final determination by HUD of violations of Title VI, Section 504, or any other laws.

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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