The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged a White Plains co-op with housing discrimination for refusal to grant an exception to its policies that would have allowed a person with disabilities to buy a unit.
The charges are a chilling reminder for all co-op boards. A man with disabilities filed a complaint against Thompkins Manor, a 155-unit co-op in White Plains, claiming he was denied the chance to purchase an apartment because of his disabilities. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, boards must make “reasonable accommodations” for applicants with disabilities.
In the White Plains case, the applicant stated that his parents had established a trust to provide for his care. In August of 2013 the man and his parents tried to buy an apartment, listing the trust as owner. But the co-op does not permit ownership by trusts, and it declined to make an exception to the rule as a “reasonable accommodation.” The purchase was rejected, and the discrimination claim followed.
HUD’s charge will be heard by a federal Administrative Law Judge. The co-op could be on the hook for injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, civil penalties and punitive damages.
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