JEN WHITE: Okay, folks. It's 4:00. We do have ASL interpreters in the meeting today, so if everyone could please keep their video off unless you are a presenter and you're needing your video then. But when you're done, turn your video off so that the ASL interpreters can still be seen.
If you are not visible when you come back on when you need to be, you may want to do spotlighting. And that way you can see yourself. If anybody has questions just let me know. We are going to get started with Disability Discrimination in Housing: An Unrelenting Crisis.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: My name is Shira Wakschlag. I'm with Arc, and we're going to hear brief introductions from my co panelists and then we'll get started.
YIYANG WU: Hi, everyone. My name is Yiyang Wu, and I'm an attorney at Relman Colfax. Glad to be here.
ANGELA GROVES: Hello, everyone. I'm Andrea Groves. I'm also an attorney with Relman Colfax, a law firm based in Washington, DC, and I'm honored to be here today. Thank you.
JEANINE LAFRATTA: Hi, everybody. I work in HUD's office of General Counsel and Office of Fair Housing. Very happy to be with you and speak to you today. My work primarily focuses on HUD grantee compliance with federal fair housing requirements with a particular emphasis on requirements under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
ALEXANDRIA LIPPINCOT: Hi. My name is Alexandria Lippincot. I'm a trial attorney at HUD in the office of General Counsel Fair Housing Enforcement Division. Jeanine is my colleague in the compliance division. Very happy to be here. Thank you.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: Thank you for joining us today. Today we're going to talk about the housing crisis for people with disability. Today we'll discuss disability discrimination and how this is compounded by severe shortage of affordable housing. Then we'll hear about some recent litigation brought under the Fair Housing Act, the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504. And last, we'll hear about urban development fair housing enforcement work. We'll also have time for a discussion at the end of our presentation, so feel free to send cerebellums in the chat as you think of them. Or at the end of the discussion, you can also raise your hand, and we'll get to them as soon as we can.
So before we get into specific litigation in this area, it's important to have some context. Disability discrimination complaints are the most common Fair Housing Act complaints received by HUD, making up over 60% of total complaints. This is also true for discrimination complaints received by nonprofit fair housing organizations.
There are a lot of different ways that disability discrimination in housing can come up. Some examples include denying a request for reasonable accommodation, such as enforcing a blanket no pets policy as a reason to not allow a service animal; refusing to approve reasonable modifications, like the construction of a ramp for wheelchair access; offering differences in treatment or housing terms and conditions on the basis of disability, such as requiring a higher security deposit because a wheelchair of service animal may damage the unit; and a refusal to communicate housing information to applicants with disabilities.
Discrimination can also occur on factors of a history of incarceration or homelessness, which people with disabilities experience at greater rates. One common way to identify discrimination in housing is through testing. Testing is an investigative technique that can serve as a powerful tool for directly observing differences in treatment and determine if housing providers are violating the law.
Testers pose as individuals seeking housing, contacting housing providers in a variety of ways to inquire about housing opportunities. Typically, two testers are assigned profiles that make them similarly situated and qualified for the housing being tested, differing only in their membership in a protected class. The testers contact a housing provider and inquire about available housing. The tester exhibiting the characteristic being tested, for example, a disability, is referred to as the protected tester, and the tester without the characteristic in the pair is the control tester.
The key to testing is to ensure pairs are well matched on all variables except the one variable or characteristic to be tested to ensure that the results are as unambiguous as possible. There are some helpful reports on disability discrimination in housing that utilize testing as a means of identifying discrimination and a paint a broad picture of the types of discrimination people with disabilities experience on the housing market.
So HUD published a report in 2017 regarding the results of a pilot study on rental housing discrimination on the basis of mental disabilities, defined as psychiatric disability and intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD. Over 1,000 matched pair tests were performed. Overall, the study found significant bias, including negative and stigmatizing reactions and attitudes by housing providers and their agents, improper requests to disclose personal and disability related information, a lack of understanding about what types of reasonable accommodations may be needed.
In addition, people with disabilities were more likely to be encouraged to look at a different unit than the one advertised. A potential indicator of steering people with disabilities towards specific buildings or areas within rental complexes, resulting in segregated living patterns. Those with psychiatric disabilities who identified as having previously lived in a nursing home or institution were even less likely to be told an advertised unit was available, and more likely to be encouraged to look at a different unit.
Many of the disabled testers were given a negative response to their reasonable accommodation request, which included requests relating to service animals, and a reminder from the housing provider that rent was due.
In 2013, the National Fair Housing Alliance performed a large study with deaf and hard of hearing housing applicants. The study was also done using testing and investigated over 100 rental firms in nearly 100 cities in 25 states. The testers called rental firms to inquire about housing using an interpreter through IP relay.
Over 25% of the rental firms treated deaf callers differently in a way that could violate the Fair Housing Act. 40% of rental firms hung up on deaf or hard of hearing individuals at least once during the interaction, and in certain instances multiple times.
76% of rental firms told hearing testers about more available units than their deaf or hard of hearing counterparts. 70% of rental firms quoted higher rental rates to deaf or hard of hearing testers, even though both callers inquired about the same size units and shared similar move in dates.
56% of rental firms emphasized financial qualifications and background checks to deaf or hard of hearing callers, such as requiring good credit and income. 33% of rental firms quoted higher op application fees to deaf or hard of hearing callers. 86% gave more information about available apartments and amenities to the hearing callers than they did to the deaf or hard of hearing callers or applicants, including mentioning multiple complex amenities, providing leasing office hours, highlighting apartment features such as high ceilings and brand new appliances, and providing information about apartment square footage.
One last testing study I'll touch on focused on wheelchair users and was done by HUD in 2015. The study also addressed deaf and hard of hearing applicants, but since we just discussed those findings in a separate report, I'll focus on the findings regarding wheelchair users here. Over 1,200 tests were performed in 30 metropolitan housing markets. The study found that less than half of the advertisements for privately owned rental housing included units accessible to wheelchair users. When users required about advertised housing that appeared to be accessible, they were treated less favorably than the other testers.
Wheelchair users were more likely to be denied an appointment to view housing. When wheelchair users asked about modifications that would make the housing more accessible to them, the housing providers either failed to clearly respond or explicitly denied many of their requests. Even when the housing in question was accessible, home seekers in wheelchairs still faced barriers. They were less likely to receive appointments and less likely to be told about available units.
So we just saw a number of examples of how people with disabilities experience discrimination in seeking housing. On top of that, there is a housing affordability crisis that further compounds these issues. A 2017 report called "Priced Out" from the Technical Assistance Collaboration does a great job of outlining some of these issues. People with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities and are less likely to be able to afford an apartment or other housing, increasing the likelihood of institutionalization or homelessness.
People of color, including those with disabilities are more likely to be extremely low renters—extremely low income renters. Nearly 5 million adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 received income from the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program in 2016. Nearly 1 million people with IDD live with caregivers over 60, and when they're no longer able to provide reports, many will have SSI as their sole source of income.
The average annual income of a single person receiving SSI is just over $9,000, or 22% below the federal poverty level. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment is over $700, or 99% of monthly SSI payments. In 13 states with the highest housing costs, the average rent exceeds 100 of the income for the recipient. Those receiving SSI find it virtually impossible to obtain decent and safe housing.
But millions of houses don't receive rental assistance due to limited funding. Affordable housing programs aren't entitlement programs that serve everyone who meets the eligibility requirements and applies for assistance. Instead, funding allotments are set annually at levels that limit the number of families that can receive assistance.
These programs are drastically underfunded, resulting in long waiting lists. 75% of households eligible for federal rental assistance are not receiving it. Families may wait years to receive housing assistance and overwhelming demand has prompted most housing agencies to stop taking applications entirely.
The COVID 19 crisis has further exacerbated the country's affordable housing shortage, due to a variety of factors, like budget short falls and construction slowdowns. And of course, this is coupled with a new generation of people acquiring COVID related disabilities, as well as loss in income due to high unemployment rates.
The combination of all of these factors has made a long standing crisis even more dire. So it's well established that housing is a social determinant of physical and mental health and well being in a number of ways.
Affordable housing alleviates crowding and makes more household resources available to pay for healthcare and healthy food, which leads to better health outcomes high quality housing limit exposure to environmental toxins that impact health. Stable and affordable housing also supporting mental health by limiting stressors related to financial burdens or frequent moves or by offering an escape from an abusive home environment.
Affordable home ownership can have mental health benefits by offering homeowners control of their environment. Housing can also serve as a platform for providing supportive services to improve the health of older adults and people with disabilities.
All of this has implications for the Olmstead division. In 1999, the Supreme Court held unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title 2 of the ADA. States must offer community based healthcare services and long term services and supports for individuals with disabilities.
In practical terms, this means that states must find housing that enables them to assist individuals with disabilities to transition out of institutions and other segregated settings, and into the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of each individual with a disability.
But the severe lack of affordable housing, compounded by discrimination interferes with the fulfillment of Olmstead to deliver services to people with disabilities in the community. Many Olmstead plans and settlement agreements require things like integrated supportive housing opportunities, but the housing affordability gap for the lowest income people with disables remains a significant barrier to their successful implementation of these agreements and states fulfillment of their Olmstead obligations.
So these are just some resources that you can access with a lot more information about some of the background I just provided. And now that we've outlined some of these issues facing people with disables in seeking housing, we're going to turn to hearing about specific litigation in that area. So off to Yiyang.
YIYANG WU: Hi, everyone. Thank you, Shira. So Shira, I think I'll have you just—I'll say just a few, if you wouldn't mind switching my slides for me. Hi, everybody. My name is Yiyang Wu. I am a partner at Relman Colfax, which is a plaintiff side civil rights law firm based in Washington, DC, with a nationwide practice. I am super honored to be here today. Thank you for having me. This is my first time speaking at this conference, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
So what I will cover today—Shira did such a tremendous job on why we care about disability discrimination and getting justice for it. I'm here to do the less glamorous part of what the laws say with respect to the issues that we care about. And specifically, under the statutes under the Federal Fair Housing Act. I'll take a minute to describe a case that I'm litigating that feels like a case study on the Fair Housing Act and how it can be used to obtain justice for people with disabilities, and then I will turn it to my colleagues and my co panelists to describe other cases they're litigating as well.
So next slide. I am going to cover the Federal Fair Housing Act in this presentation, and just pausing for the moment, that there are many other statutes to litigate under, state and local protections, protections for entities that accept federal funding, to name a few. But I will say that the Federal Fair Housing Act is an incredible powerful tool and set of laws and seeing that I only have you for so long, I'm going to be work through that with you today.
This is just a zoom out of the sections of the Fair Housing Act we'll work through today. And we'll go through them in greater detail below. So next slide.
3604 (a). It is illegal to make housing unavailable to, the key protected verb is making housing unavailable on race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. Those are the key protected classes under 3604 (a) next slide, please. 3604 (b) it's illegal to impose differing terms and conditions that pertain to housing. Again, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.
Next slide, please. So what is wrong with the picture I just described? A and B don't say anything about disability as a protected class, right? Next slide, please. I'm just pausing for dramatic effect, but my point is that they are mere images of 3604 (a) making housing unavailable and 3604 ( b) discriminatory terms and conditions and they are 3404 (f) (1) and (f) (2).
It wasn't until 1988 that it was extended to protect people with disabilities. So we've only had these protections available for some shorter amount of time and as Shira had outlined, there remains a lot of work to be done on these statutes. Next slide.
Going back to the law, we covered (f) (1) and (2) and now (c). This deals with discriminatory statements. I could do an entire training on it. But the tl:dr is don't make discriminatory statements. All you need to do is focus on the words in the statements, and whether or not they indicate a preference or a limitation based on a protected class.
Next slide, please. Then we have 3617, and this statute is a little bit confusing, but it's the anti harassment statute. So essentially, it is unlawful to—and the key verb is to coerce, intimidate, threaten or to interfere with anyone in the exercise or enjoyment of their right to housing. So if you are living in housing and you have a right to be living in that housing and someone coerces, intimidates, threatens or interferes with you based on a protected class, then 3617 is triggered. Next slide, please.
And finally, we have the reasonable accommodations language, which my colleagues and my co panelists will go into in much further detail than I, but I just wanted to put that there. So you have the various statutes in one place. Next slide, please.
Okay, so spending a moment on the case that I have been litigating for a couple of years, which is Gilead Community Services versus the Town of Cromwell. So I represent Gilead Community Services that works in the state of Connecticut. It does a lot of work for people with disabilities specifically, people with mental health illnesses. It provides therapy, it does job searches, but most importantly, it provides housing for them.
They often purchase housing in residential neighborhoods and renovate them and make them available to use as group homes, to use for people with—to live who have mental illnesses.
And taking a step back, this is a big connection to what Shira was talking about with respect to Olmstead. The state Connecticut has had a significant history of struggling with housing for people with disabilities, so much so that the Department of Justice actually sued the state of Connecticut, alleging is that they had far too many people in institutionalized settings and not out in the neighborhood and not out in residential communities. So Gilead is one of those organizations that has worked to make more housing available for people with disabilities.
In early 2015, Gilead purchased a single-family property in the town of Cromwell, Connecticut. Cromwell is a typical town in the Northeast, population is about 19,000. It votes Democrat. It's middle to upper class, and it does—it has several group homes already in town, but perhaps those group homes had already sort of been accepted and there was no controversy over them. But when Gilead moved in, it became a big issue in town.
Again, taking a step back, in Connecticut, perhaps due to its history with having problems finding housing for people with disability, there's vail a very good law on the books protecting folks who are trying to move into residential neighborhoods. So in Connecticut, the living arrangement is by right use. A group home seeking to live in a residential community is just as entitled to live in a residential neighborhood as a nuclear family. So Gilead owns many such homes in Connecticut and actually owned one in Cromwell, Connecticut, and sought to start this second one in Connecticut as well.
So what happens next is sort of predictable. The neighbors start to see construction trucks coming into town and they start to learn that a group home is come into town and essentially they spiral. And they think it is,—you know, without having anybody move in, assume it's going to be the absolute worse of circumstances. The latest Columbine shooter is moving into town. They get organized. They start a Facebook group and they start to make lots and lots of phone calls to their local politicians. They also make phone calls to Gilead and their donors. They cause so much of an issue that there is a public forum held at the town hall.
And there are 300 attendees at the town forum, and it is three hours of folks just shouting spewing vitriol at Gilead and their supporters. Instead of just the neighbors being upset, it's the town itself getting involved, right? And even though the town previously had done the right thing, the zoning enforcer had told Gilead that they had a right to be there as a right, they had originally told the neighbors to back off, in the face of this public forum, the town officials, in particular, the town mayor and town manager, they just completely cave.
They stand up at the town meeting and start to really aggressively question Gilead and make it known that they were siding with these nasty neighborhoods. And of course, on this slide here, I have a reference to NIMBY. And this really is a prototypical NIMBY situation. You know, absolutely everybody at this town hall meeting, including the neighbors and the town officials supported the right for people with disability to be living in residential neighborhoods, this just wasn't the right neighborhood for them. Next slide, please.
So the town takes the opposition's side in public, in private, in every way that you can possibly imagine. So here is just a quick slide on some of the actions the town takes. The town, not just someone, a neighbor, not even a neighborhood group. But the town, which is an entity that receives federal funding, serves constituents, including presumably other people with disabilities. The town, instead of being the grownup in the room and serving to neutralize actually decides over the course of one summer to take several discrete acts designed to push Gilead out of town.
So right after the town forum, they release official statements. Several press releases that say that the town's mayor, quote, unquote, officially opposes the situating of the group home, and officially requesting that they move somewhere else. When that doesn't work, the town issues—gets a lawyer to send a petition to Gilead's primary funder, which is a state agency requesting that they rescind their funding for this group home.
When that doesn't work, the town starts to use its own tools, internal tools. So they issue a cease-and-desist order, even though previously the zoning officer had told Gilead that there was—you know, as to the state statute, Gilead deserves to be there as a right. Now they completely reverse course and the town says that Gilead is to keep the group home at two residents or less, or else they face fines of hundreds of dollars a day. So Gilead agrees to keep the home at two residences which is not a financially sustainable model.
Then they also do some other things. They deny property tax exemptions, even though others got the property tax exemptions throughout the years. The town manager who doubles as the police chief refuses to investigate a criminal act of harassment that happens at the house. The list goes on. It's a pretty bleak, sad summer. Next slide, please.
So Gilead puts up a fight, but eventually it's just too much in terms of a drain on Gilead staff time, Gilead's own monetary resources to keep the house open with just two residents, the mental health of the residents and everything. So to make a long story short, in the fall, they ended up closing the group home. And after putting the property on the market about a year later, they sell the property at a loss. And the two men who were living in the home for the summer, they wind up in institutionalized settings until Gilead is able to fortunately find them another place with another house.
At some point, Gilead finds the local fair housing agency and they sue the town of Cromwell, its mayor and its town manager in federal court which is where I come in. Next slide, please.
Okay, so let's zoom out again. Here are the Fair Housing Act statutes we talked about. Shocker, all of them apply to this particular case. So the first one is making housing unavailable. And the argument that we made is that everything that the town did that summer from publicly telling everyone to get out of town, to trying to get their funding revoked, to limiting the number of people allowed to be in the house, to not letting them use police resources when other people are able to use police resource, all of this caused Gilead to reconsider whether this town was a right place for them to be. All of this caused Gilead to shut down the home and relocate and all of this was due to the resistance to these people with disabilities who wanted to come into town.
Terms and conditions. This might be little more narrow, but there were town actions the town takes and would do differently for somebody who wasn't in a protected class would fall into this discriminatory terms and conditions claim. For example, a property tax denial. If they were giving it to similarly situated organizations or residences, then Gilead should have gotten one, too.
And then the discriminatory statements. This is an obvious one. The press releases certainly are statements, and if a jury would view them as indicating a reference for or against people with disabilities, then that is a violation of the fair housing act in and of itself. The town mayor also wrote emails to constituents saying things like, I don't want these people in my town at all, or I'm scared of what these people will do, even though those are private emails, they would potentially give rise to a discriminatory statements cause of action.
And then harassment. Probably the entire summer's concerted efforts would be our 3617 claim. Everything that they did, every official's discrete act together as a campaign made Gilead feel unwelcome to the point where they moved out. But even if they had not moved out, it was harassment and it is something that is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act.
So anyway, this is a fact pattern, but truly, the town of Cromwell pulled everything without all the stops. Okay, next slide. So we sue. We have a pretty hefty discovery period, and then the town files for summary judgment. And the court denies all of it. Like completely. And it finds that there was substantial evidence to support a finding that the town's conduct violated the Fair Housing Act. At summary judgment, the town's position was kind of peculiar, but kind of by necessity. There wasn't so much they could do in terms of factual disputes because everything was covered by the press and heavily documented in emails.
So basically, their defense was some equivalent of, well, pointing the finger, Gilead is at fault, too. And sort of something along the lines of, sure, we might have done these things, but we didn't actually shut it down. Nothing we did was that bad. You guys are making a big deal out of nothing. Nothing we did rose to the level of a Fair housing violation.
The court squarely rejected these arguments and had some really great language on it. The great language, you know, courts have found that a defendant makes housing unavailable when the defendant engages in a series of actions that impose burdens on or constitutes harassment of a protected class of residents or intended residents., making it more difficult for the members of the protected class to obtain housing or conveying a sense that the members of the protected class are unwanted. So that's it.
For those of you thinking about the cases, you don't need fact where is a mayor literally padlocks himself to a door so they can't open it. The law is clearly violated when a public entity or a public official yielding the power of the town imposes burdens on or harasses or conveys a sense that a member of a protected class is unwanted or undesired. Next slide.
I have the citation for this court decision here in case it's helpful for anyone. I don't have a result on the case yet. It's scheduled for trial in October, so fingers crossed we get a good result from there. And there's just one final thing that I wanted to mention, which is that the other part of this court decision is on the availability of punitive damages against the municipality under the Fair Housing Act. This issue wasn't squarely in front of the court originally, but he wanted a briefing on it, and after we supplied it, he issued a great decision on it.
So punitive damages are monetary verdicts that are assessed by a jury for the soul purpose of punishing as opposed to compensating. Under section 1983 claim, which is the most common type of claim that municipalities are sued under for civil rights violations, the Supreme Court had held that punitive Daniels are not available against municipalities. They are available against individual defendant, but not municipalities.
The reasoning had to do with the fact that punitive damages would ultimately be borne by the taxpayers and allegedly it's not the fault of the taxpayers, and these are one off situations and taxpayers can't do anything to disincentivize their politicians or governments from performing these violations, so they shouldn't be on the hook for punitive damages. I don't agree with that, but regardless, that's the law of the land under 1983. But the law is way more unclear under the Fair Housing Act, and judge Golden's decision is one of the fist that I've seen to definitively say hey, look, under the Fair Housing Act, this is something that needs to go to a jury.
He said there are situations where punitive damages are appropriate. For example, if the jury finds the taxpayers are, in fact, culpable, they're not completely blameless. And here, we actually think we have very strong evidence of that because the neighbors played such a role in influencing the municipality's decision to oppose the group home. I emphasize this holding because even though it's a district court decision, I think it carries a lot of weight. Defendants and advocates and lawyers ought to know if cities or towns violate the Federal Fair Housing Act, they may be on the hook for a lot, right? It ultimately comes down to a decision between pandering to the noisy NIMBY neighbors, or doing the right thing. Maybe more decisions where it hurts them where it counts, the wallet, maybe that will push them to ultimately make the right decision.
Okay, so that is the end of my section. Please slide, please. That's the end of my section on—oh, boy. Keep going. Yay, there was my one little flashy thing that I forgot about. That's all I've got for you today. If you have any question, please feel free to email me and thanks again for having me. I'll turn it over to Shira for the next piece.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: That was very cool. Okay. I'm just going to talk about a couple of cases that the Arc has collaborated with Relman Colfax in some ways over the years. One of the cases we more recently collaborated with the firm on, versus the Dallas Housing authority. CPSH is a volunteer nonprofit that creates housing options in the north Texas community for adults with IDD and those experiencing social challenges, as well as educational services for these adults and their families to encourage independent living.
And project based vouchers, which are at issue in this case, are a type of section 8 housing voucher that attach to specific properties and subsidize the rental of those properties to people who meet income and other criteria. Housing authorities use project based voucher programs to target specific populations with a significant need for affordable housing that is not adequately served by other voucher programs, such as those who are homeless or people with disabilities.
In 2016, the Dallas Housing Authority offered a project based voucher program that would make it feasible for parents to rent homes to their children with IDD. In an RFP it announced it would provide up to 50 project based vouchers to create affordable housing to folks with IDD and welcomed applications. DHA explicitly noted that this was intended to assist people with IDD to live in the community and acknowledge the many barriers that people with IDD experience in accessing affordable housing in the community, and the veer housing crisis they faced. That was their words.
DHA also explained they would give an amount for the house and DHA would pay the owners the difference between two amounts. DHA received many applications from families of people with IDD. But in 2017, DHA canceled its call for proposals, taking away the only affordable option it offered for folks with IDD to live in the community with needed assistance.
DHA stated that it canceled the RFP because it could not allow a project based voucher recipient to house a family member with a disability. While HUD regulations do typically prevent this, they permit this to occur for a family members with a disability.
Because DHA canceled the RFP, as many as 50 single family homes that would have been used by adults with IDD were not made available to them. Just go to the next slide. And these are the relevant provisions out here.
So in 2018, Relman Colfax and Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of plaintiffs and parents with adults with IDD. The lawsuit alleged DHA's actions violated the ADA, Section 504 and the Fair Housing Act by operating the voucher program in a matter that excludes people with IDD and failing to modify its policies that would otherwise provide an equal opportunity for people with IDD to access the program, which presented an opportunity to live in housing that is integrate grated in the community with needed supports.
The district court granted DHA's motion to dismiss and appeal to the Fifth Circuit. The Arc, the National Disability Rights Network and Disability Rights Advocate filed an amicus brief. The brief explained that the promised of Olmstead even the ADA integration mandate cannot be fulfilled without access to affordable housing. And the importance of providing community based housing opportunities to allow for independence and self determination.
The brief also provided background on the housing crisis facing people with IDD, including the issue of aging caregivers. Nationwide, 70% of people with IDD live with family members into adulthood, and nearly 25% live with family members over 60 with no meaningful plan in place to address where the individual will live or receive supports when the family member is no longer able to provide these things.
For many, SSI will end up being their only source of income, and it will require affordable housing supports to remain in the community. The lack of affordable, accessible housing opportunities means that many people with IDD will experience an acute crisis, such as institutionalization or homelessness upon the aging or death of family members who own the home and provide support. It also means regardless of aging family member, many are barred from seeking a greater level of independence by living separately from their families.
In 2020, while the Fifth Circuit appeal was pending, DHA agreed to settle the lawsuit. Under the settlement, DHA will make project based vouchers available for neighborhood based single family homes that allow for more affordable housing options for adults with IDD in the Dallas metro area. CPSH and DHA will work together to share information and key dates about voucher availability to people with disabilities, their families, service agencies and property owners in the Dallas metro area.
So we had a good outcome there. And I just wanted to briefly touch on another case we worked on back in 2015. The Arc of Delaware versus Sugar Maple Farms Property Owners Association. I'm sorry, I don't have a slide on this one. So in 2015, we worked with Relman Colfax to file a complaint with HUD and the Delaware Division of Human Relations seeking a declaration as a property owners association in Delaware describe lated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to approve property meant to house a few individuals with IDD in a single family home in the community.
The Arc of Delaware submitted a bid for a lot owned by the property owners association. The bid was accepted, but once the association learned that residents with IDD would be living in the property, they rescinded their acceptance and wrote to the Arc of Delaware that such use was barred by its covenant, expressed concern about parking availability for support staff, and noted such an arrangement would disturb the quiet enjoyment of the neighbors and reduce property values.
The Delaware division of Human Relations performed an investigation and issued a finding of discrimination in 2016. Soon after, the parties reached a conciliation agreement which included HUD and DHR. Among other thing, the conciliation agreement required the association to apply the same terms and conditions of rental to anyone occupying its properties without regard to disability or any protected class. Provide written compliance reports to DHR and HUD when requested, allow HUD and DHR to inspect the premises at any time within one year of the agreement, notify its members and residents in writing of rules, policies and practices relating to its nondiscrimination policy, ensure that all of its current and future board members receive comprehensive train on the Fair Housing Act and pay damages to the Arc of Delaware.
So those are just a summary of two cases that we worked on with Relman Colfax on the fair housing act. And now we're going to hear about some additional litigation from Angela.
ANGELA GROVES: Thank you, Shira. Good afternoon. My name is Angela Groves. I'm an attorney at Relman Colfax, which you heard mentioned before in the presentation today. I'm going to talk about some litigation that we're doing under the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act related to housing. I will focus on a recent case that our firm is living called Access Living versus the city of Chicago in the northern district of Illinois in federal court.
To the next slide. An overview of my presentation today, I'm going to give a quick overview of title II of ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as it relates to our litigation challenging disability discrimination, and I'll talk a bit about our lawsuit with Access Living. We're happy to see comments posting in the chat, and we'll have more time at the end of the full panel today.
As many of you all I'll sure are aware, the ADA is protecting person with disabilities. I'm just going to focus on some aspects of title II of the ADA as it relates to our housing litigation, again, challenging disability discrimination.
The ADA was enacted in 1990 to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against folks with disabilities, and to include some clear and consistent enforcement standards.
The ADA prohibits aiding or perpetuating discrimination on the basis of disability. It provides detailed architectural of requirements. It requires implementation of poll seance practices to ensure that public programs and activities are accessible to people with disabilities, and we'll talk about that specifically in the context of our litigation against the city of Chicago.
The ADA is applicable to public entities, and those public entities can include housing agencies, state and local government entities. Move to the next slide, please.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act passed before the ADA in 1973 with the purpose of maximizing employment and integration and inclusion in society for folks with disabilities. Section 504 recognizes houses as one of the critical areas where people with disabilities continually encounter forms of discrimination and that remains true today. Like the ADA, Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, has architectural requirements to provide for accessibility. It also includes requirements regarding public programs and activities, and it is applicable to entities that receive federal financial assistance.
So again, that's going to include public housing, agencies, state or local government entities that are receiving federal funding. I'm going to discuss litigation that we did with Access Living. This lawsuit was filed in 2018 in federal court, as I mentioned, dealing with the issue of affordable accessible housing and specifically the lack thereof in the city of Chicago.
So as Shira outlined so well at the beginning of this panel, there's a severe shortage of housing that is not only accessible for people with disabilities, but also affordable. And that is true in Chicago as well. This is particularly important given the disproportionate percentage of people with disabilities who are unemployed and living below the poverty line. We find in our investigation, Access Living found in its investigation that this shortage is particularly acute in Chicago for folks who do not qualify for senior housing, and we'll talk more about some of the implications of that shortage.
The organization that we have the honor and privilege of representing can Access Living, which is based in Chicago. It's a nonprofit center for independent living that provides a whole range of services for people with disabilities living in the Chicago area.
Access Living conducted an extensive investigation into Chicago's affordable rental housing program after spending many years advocating with the city of Chicago and providing services to its consumers who were seeking affordable housing. Their investigation included many of the tactics that Shira mentioned, such as testing, interview, public records requests and reviewing publicly available information. We'll go to the next slide.
What this investigation reveals was that while over the past three decades Chicago has funded and developed over 50,000 affordable rental housing units, it has done so without ensuring that a sufficient number of those units are accessible for people with disabilities. The investigation revealed a lack of a system to ensure that units are compliant with accessibility requirements, lack of policies to make sure that the units that are actually accessible are prioritized for the people who need them, and also found that many of the developments were not constructed to allow individuals who use wheelchairs or walkers to even enter the building, let alone use rooms or amenities within the housing.
As a result, that caused hundreds of thousands of folks in Chicago with disabilities to be forced to be un-housed, to find housing in their cars or nursing homes, or in homeless shelters, or other forms of housing that are inadequate.
Just to give you all an example of some of the individual instances and circumstances that resulted from this lack of affordable housing that were uncovered in this investigation included that man with cerebral palsy at 25 years old found himself living in a nursing home because of a lack of affordable and accessible housing that he could use.
Another instance, a woman with cerebral palsy found herself in homeless shelters for in years while sitting on a wait list for public housing for 20 years. And another instance, a woman with MS being forced to call the fire department anytime she needed to leave her apartment unit on the second floor because she was unable to walk down the stairs to get in and out of her home. As you can imagine, that has a severely detrimental effect on those individuals' quality of life and the quality of their housing, or, again, the lack thereof.
These issues also effectively exclude people with disabilities from participating in affordable housing that's funded and provided by the city of Chicago. If we go to the next slide.
So from that investigation, our firm, Relman Colfax representing Access Living brought a lawsuit. And the claims in that lawsuit include a claim under the ADA, Section 504 in the Fair Housing Act. And I will not focus on our claim under the Fair Housing Act since Yiyang did a good job of highlighting other cases today. One claim is the city failed to ensure meaningful accessibility of the affordable housing program as a whole, which is required by the ADA and Section 504. Again, ensuring that public programs and activities are accessible.
This includes failure to implement policies and procedures to place people who need the accessible features in those units, as well as evaluating and identifying any ongoing barriers to accessibility in the affordable housing program. So we argued that, although the city itself hired and engaged with many third party developers and contractors to build the housing, through its power as the funding entity had the obligation as well as the power to ensure this housing was accessible for people with disabilities as a whole.
We also alleged that the city has failed to ensure compliance with the architectural accessibilities requirements of the ADA and of Section 504. ADA and Section 504 require a high level of accessibility for a fraction of each building as well as accessible travel throughout the development.
Some of our relevant facts within the investigation revealed that a third of the properties that Access Living investigated had an inaccessible entrance for people using a wheelchair. A third of the properties labeled accessible were actually too narrow for people using a wheelchair to enter the bedroom or the bathroom, as well as a lack of roll in showers, and many other architectural problems.
Move to the next slide. In 2019, the city of Chicago filed a motion to dismiss Access Living's claim.
Fortunately the court denied the city's motion on all points. It found that plaintiffs, that we had efficiently alleged standing, and that's under two fronts. First, under frustration of mission, which is that the city of Chicago's practices make it difficult for Access Living to deliver its core services to its constituents. So things like providing independent living skills training become very difficult if someone is unhoused.
Same with transitioning people from institutional settings to community settings. That work is very difficult if there are no community settings available for people to afford is that are also accessible. Likewise, Access Living's standing is based on the diversion of its resources. So time spent advocating with the city of Chicago, additional time spent counseling people and attempting to find affordable, accessible housing.
The court also rejected the city's arguments around causation, finding that we sufficiently allege that the city's actions caused injuries to Access Living, again, by failure to ensure that the affordable units are accessible to people with disabilities as a whole.
All in all, all three of our claims survived the motion to dismiss stage, and the case is currently proceeding through discovery and is ongoing. Let's move to the next slide, please.
I've noted some of the statutes and regulations for folks who are interested in reading more on the law behind these claims, and as well I've noted the case citation for folks who are interested in pulling the docket and tracking the progress of this case, which we're excited to continue litigating. With that, I will pass it with my co panelist, Jeanine LaFratta. Thank you all for having me and for being here and to the folks on the panel and as well as in the audience for all the work you're doing in this area. Thank you.
JEANINE LAFRATTA: Hi, everybody. Good afternoon again. My name is Jeanine LaFratta. I work in HUD's Office of General Counsel in our Office of Fair Housing, in our compliance division. We thought we would start briefly providing an overview of the work of our office. Next slide, please.
So our enforcement division primarily handles enforcement under the Fair Housing Act and the compliance division is responsible for other civil rights statutes and requirements that are applicable to HUD programs and activities, primarily this includes Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the ADA.
Our office also assists with compliance reviews initiate by HUD. A compliance review is an investigation into is a HUD funded program or activity to determine compliance with federal civil rights authorities that are under our jurisdiction.
We also work with program offices at HUD to help ensure the housing programs are implemented in compliance with federal fair housing requirements. So Alexandria Lippincot, my colleague in the enforcement division is going to start by discussing reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications. And then I'm going to discuss physical accessibility requirements for housing programs that are receiving HUD funding. Next slide.
ALEXANDRIA LIPPINCOT: Thank you, Jeanine. And thanks, Shira, for taking care of the slides. So I am going to first give some background statistics, drill down a little bit from where Shira left us off at the beginning. First, just yeah, these statistics that I'm going to share come from the complaints that have been filed either with HUD or with our state or local partners known as FHAPs. The FHAPs having certified as having laws that are substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act, so they operate across the nation.
FHEO provides an annual report and includes statistics about these complaints. The most recent statistics show that we have 60%, up to 62% of the foal fair housing complaints involve disability discrimination. Of those complaints, 43% involved a refusal to make a reasonable accommodation. Approximately 3% alleged a failure to make a reasonable modification. So we'll talk about those terms briefly in a moment.
But a few more statistics. Complaints alleging race discrimination totaled 26% in 2019. So those are the two highest categories. And I also wanted to share with you, although we don't have official numbers for 2020, just to give you some of the raw cut, pretty much the percentages of total complaints that are disability focused is the same, same for the reasonable accommodation, reasonable modification. And it has actually been pretty consistent over a number of years. There's ability 12 years’ worth of annual reports available on HUD's website.
But in addition, thought it would be interesting to note that complaints alleging disability discrimination plus another basis totaled about 17% of complaints. Breaking out race plus disability, that share is 3.5% of the complaints.
Reasonable accommodation complaints involving assistance animals totaled about 14% of the complaints, and design and construction complaints make up about 1% of the complaints. Next slide, please. Thanks. So there are three statutes that involve reasonable accommodations, reasonable modifications, Fair Housing Act section 504. I just want to note that granting a reasonable accommodation and modification is one way a person with a disability is provided an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing. Therefore, a failure to grant such a reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification is a form of discrimination against a person with a disability.
Next slide, please. So the Fair Housing ACT programs uses the term reasonable accommodation, and the term reasonable modification. So in brief, a reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment in the rules, policies, practices necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. It could include waiving a guest parking fee for a caretaker who comes to help someone in a home. A reasonable modification is a structural change of a dwelling or common area that a person with a disability needs in order to use and enjoy the premises.
An example of that would be adding a handrail to stairs for a person with mobility issues. So the obligations under the Fair Housing Act apply regardless of whether there's federal money involved in the housing. The housing provider is obligated to provide a running back reasonable accommodation, as long as it's not an undue financial and administrative burden or fundamentally alters the nature of the program. Meaning the housing provider may need to incur some costs to provide an accommodation.
The cost of a reasonable modification, when there is no federal money involved is borne by the requestor. So the tenant need to pay for that modification when there's no federal money involved in the housing.
However, this, of course, assumes that the requested reasonable modification is not something that the housing provider was already legally required to provide.
Next slide, please. So under section 504, reasonable accommodations may be necessary to provide an equal opportunity to participate in a federally assisted program or activity. This includes changes that extend beyond housing. It could include employment. Under Section 504, the term reasonable accommodation includes structural changes to an individual unit or a public or common use area that may be necessary to provide equal access.
So reasonable accommodation under 504 embraces the reasonable modification concept we just discussed under the Fair Housing Act. Next slide, please. In addition to the statutory requirements to provide a reasonable accommodation, HUD section 504 regs provide for making housing adjustments. This may include a recipient modifying to not discriminate against a qualified person with disabilities. Also the recipient may not impose policies that would have the effect of limiting the participation of tenants with disability, such as by banning assistive devices like wheelchairs or auxiliary alarms such as a flashlight or a flashing doorbell.
So where federal money is involved, a housing provider must pay for the reasonable accommodation, including accommodations that involve structural modifications that under the Fair Housing Act would be paid for by the requesting tenant.
The ADA provides reasonable accommodation requirements similar to 504. The term the ADA uses is reasonable modifications, and its requirements apply regardless of the presence of federal financial assistance.
Next slide, please. So once a complaint is filed with HUD, there's various ways the allegations in the case may proceed or be resolved. Conciliation is one of those ways, and the Fair Housing Act requires that HUD engage in conciliation with the parties from the time the complaint is filed until a charge or a dismissal of the case. An example of a recently conciliated case is Huett v. HumanGood. In this case, the person alleged discrimination because of cognitive and gastrointestinal disability, which his senior housing provider failed to reasonably accommodate, and for allegedly conditioning his continued tenancy on signing up for a comprehensive assisted living and medal assistance program for seniors that would require him to change the caretaker that he had with him for seven years and to receive fewer days of care, change his doctors, and pay money for a service he was not interested in.
The housing provider threaten to evict him because he had locked himself out of his apartment approximately six times and on several occasions in which his colostomy bag had leaked in the common area, in his own unit and in a neighbor's unit. The complainant alleged that these lockouts and leakages were due to his disabilities, and he sought a reasonable accommodation from the housing provider that would waive the alleged lease violations allowing him to continue to live on the property without signing up for Mercy Life and prevent a dialogue to prevent future lockouts.
The housing provider denied the requested reasonable accommodations, stating only that it is not reasonable under the circumstances. And they failed to offer or discuss any possible alternative accommodations.
The matter was resolved through a conciliation agreement under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 because there was federal financial assistance involved. In addition to representing complainant Huett in the matter, the Fair Housing Organization that filed the separate complaint alleging disability discrimination following testing that revealed failures to provide reasonable accommodations for assistance animals and parking spaces for people with disabilities.
The significant terms of this conciliation agreement included ad goods amount of money, $90,000 for the Fair Housing organization and 25,000 for the complainant himself, establishing a reasonable accommodation under discrimination policy, which are fairly standard, but also a reasonable accommodation that request log, also somewhat standard. But this agreement included come compliance testing to be paid for by the respondents and also provided a two year look back period in which people who had requested reasonable accommodations and had been denied, those requests were to be re evaluated and immediately approved if they were to meet the criteria of the new reasonable accommodation policy. And they would also get any fees that had been charged illegitimately, those would be refunded.
Oh, the other significant thing was that the personnel change was incorporated into the reasonable accommodation so that the property manager who had been at the root—or appeared to be at the root of much of this discrimination, she was removed from that position. Just checking on time. So next slide please, Shira. So I'm trying to condense things so we have time to get to Jeanine. But I do want to flag two cases. Webster and Webster versus Lenox Woods Properties. And the next is Mayo. Both of these involved requests for reasonable accommodation by persons who were Black in communities that had granted reasonable accommodations to white people.
In the first case, it was a mother and daughter. The mother had significant mobility issues and the daughter repeatedly requested accommodations over a three year period involving installation of handrails, bars and even requested and received a transfer of unit to a lore floor but had to pay a transfer fee. All of these requests had been granted to two requestors who were white and had similar types of requests. That case did resolve after a charge of discrimination, and that was brought under the Fair Housing Act and 504. And a settlement for $35,000. Next slide, please.
The Mayo case, the significant bit of this is that Mr. Mayo had a dog and he was requesting to have a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal. And he just knew that something wasn't right. He provided all the up front information which you don't have to provide, a written request. But he provided a written request. His doctor gave a letter, and the housing provider asked for more which he did provide. He shouldn't have had to, but he did. And so it was over an 18 month period that he was not granted the request until the 18 months had elapsed. He was finally granted the request.
But in that time period, two white tenants that he was not aware of had also requested assistance animals and had been granted those—that accommodation within a few weeks and even days. So I just want to flag to—oh, and this was not discovered until the investigation started and HUD in its RFI request had asked for any other reasonable accommodations that the housing provider had granted. So this came to the surface for that. So that was added to the charge. Very sadly, Mr. Mayo has died. This case was only very recently charged. The respondents did elect, so it's possible that DOJ might still be able to reach some kind of settlement on behalf of his estate.
I just want to you can that about the disability discrimination along with other discriminatory conduct. I also want to mention that while COVID isn't always a disability, it may result in a disability, and HUD is accepting complaints alleging COVID related discrimination. So please feel free to file with HUD, or if you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.
Because I want to make sure that we have time for Jeanine, I am actually going to stop here and, of course, people are free to reach out to me after the session. Thank you.
JEANINE LAFRATTA: Thanks, Alexandria. Next slide, please. Next slide. I think these are all practice tips Alexandria has included. Great, thank you. So I wanted to focus on physical accessibility requirements, because accessible housing is crucial to ensuring equal housing opportunities. In particular, having access to affordable housing, housing that's accessible, and also integrated housing opportunities are so critical, especially for individuals who may be transitioning from institutional settings and for individuals at risk of institutionalization. I'm going to focus on the requirements under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, because they're required by the receipt of federal funding.
I did want to first just flag that there are other federal statutes that may apply in the housing con. So the Fair Housing Act, title II of the ADA and the Architectural Barriers Act. This is important because in most buildings and facilities that are involving federal funding, they are often covered by more than one federal accessibility standard. Next slide.
In terms of Section 504, the requirements apply to recipients of federal financial assistance, and this is interpreted very broadly. As was mentioned earlier in this discussion, this is going to refer to public housing agencies, to any states, cities and counties that receive HUD funding, any entities that receive discretionary funding under one of our HUD housing programs, and some programs that I wanted to flag would include, for example, our section 811, supportive housing program for persons with disabilities. Section 202, supportive housing for the elderly program, project based assistance programs, and our wholeness assistance programs. These are going to be covered under Section 504 and have these additional federal accessibility requirements. So in terms of physical access, HUD funded programs must be made accessible. And this includes dwelling unit, public and common use areas. I think in the interest of time, I'm not going to go into too many of the specific requirements, but I do just want to flag that there are requirements for both new construction, multifamily housing projects and all h also for existing housing projects. So you may have an existing multifamily housing project that's undergoing substantial alterations or other alterations in which physical accessibility requirements are going to be triggered, as well as regardless in any existing housing that is covered under 504, there's an ongoing program access obligation, again, to make sure that your program as a whole is made accessible.
Next slide. Here, I just want to flag to accessibility unit, public common use areas need to meet the technical accessibility requirements. That's currently the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards or HUD's Alternative Accessibility Standards which we refer to as our deeming notice which is based on ADA standards. I've included a link there if you want to learn more about the deeming notice.
Just as important, and I wanted to flag this, is in addition to making sure that you have accessible units available, is making sure that those units are matched with individuals who need the accessibility features of the unit. So there needs to be priorities in place. HUD has requirements on this in our regulations, in order to ensure that current tenants and then applicants with disabilities are matched with units that meet their disability related needs.
Again, the thought is to avoid a situation where you may have a household that's placed in a unit that doesn't need the features when you have other households who have an expressed need.
Finally, I wanted to flag that distribution is also a really important concept. Accessible units must be dispersed throughout housing projects, so they're not concentrated in a specific section of a development, so you're not congregating accessible units together in one specific area within a housing development.
Also, units must be available in a range of sizes to meet the needs of individuals. So we've included there a link to FHEO's website for more information. That will go into physical, accessibility requirements into more detail. Next slide.
And then just briefly, in the next couple of slides, what we've included here is an overview of recent disability cases that our office has been involved in that deal with physical accessibility requirements. The first case here that we're highlighting is a case that I've been directly involved with, and this is the city of Los Angeles, Section 504, ADA compliance review, which resulted in a significant ten year voluntary compliance agreement. Again, the slide will include some background of the case. Next slide, please.
And then here, this is an overview of the VCA requirements. Again, a ten year VCA, accessible housing units in new and rehabilitated developments. The thing I want to flag here is the enhanced housing accessibility program, which a novel concept, we've included in the VCA. The idea is to create what we're referring to as super accessible units, and a big component of that is a competitive program that the city is going to be participating in in order to encourage affordable housing developers to go beyond the minimum accessibility requirements and to offer enhanced accessibility features in their affordable housing developments. Next slide.
And then here, another compliance review. I will briefly mention, Shira Gordon, who I believe is listening in on the panel, she has worked on this case, a 504 ADA compliance review where the investigation revealed a lack of accessibility in both public housing and in the housing choice voucher programs, and that staff routinely failed to respond to tenants' reasonable accommodation request and resulted in a seven year VCA with HUD. Next slide, please.
And here, it just includes the summary of the VCA, which I will just say focuses on again making sure that they have the correct number of accessible units, also a compensation fund, a modification fund, and also policy and procedure provisions. And then next slide, and then the last case, I just want to briefly highlight is the housing authority of the city of Bridgeport.
In response to complaints that were filed with the Department in 2015 alleging reasonable accommodations were not being granted or processed by the PHA. FHEO opened a compliance review, and significant that Bridgeport owns and manages more than 2,600 units of public housing, and almost 3,000 vouchers.
So there's procedural background on the case here. And this is an example where when HUD was not able to achieve voluntary compliance, we referred the case over to the Department of Justice, next slide, please. Which then resulted in a very significant consent order. And I'll leave the details there for those who would like to take a look at it. And I think in the interest of time, I will stop there. Other than just to say, as we look more generally to the future, HUD expects to be bringing more enforcement actions, both under Section 504 and our other compliance authorities. We are available if you have issues that you would like to raise. You have our contact information and we look forward to discussing these issues with you. Thank you.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: Thank you so much, everyone. I realize that—I'm so sorry that we are at the end of the session. I think if the other panelists want to come on, I'm happy to stay on for a bit to answer any questions that might remain or at least try to answer a couple. But I realize that the interpreter is probably not available. So maybe it's best to do it in the chat.
JEN WHITE: There is a question if they—if people can obtain a copy of the slides.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: Yeah. So I was under the impression that tenBroek distributed those in advance.
if that's not the case, please contact the organizers. I believe they're going to be posted on the website. But again, I could be wrong about that. So please contact the tenBroek organizers and they will be happy to send you the slides. And I'm just going to put my email address in the chat. If anyone wants to reach out to me for contact information, for anyone on the panel or to get the slides or with any questions.
JEN WHITE: And then there was a question earlier. I think it's when Ms. Wu was on, I believe. Under what circumstances are housing providers aware that a housing applicant, that someone has a cognitive, psychiatric disability? We have dealt with service support animal requests. You mentioned requests for accommodations like rental payment reminders. These may come after housing obtained. What other circumstances cause such individuals to be denied housing or offered inferior housing?
YIYANG WU: I think this was in Shira's section. I'm not so familiar with rental payment reminders and cases like that. I don't know if Alexandria or Shira has thoughts on that.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: In in that study, they had two standardized reasonable accommodation requests so they could have clear results from the study. One of the questions had to do with reminders for rental payments, and that was asked in advance. Meaning, it was asked in advance as they were applying to get housing. Is this something that the housing provider can give to me as a reasonable accommodation that they give me reminders to make my payments on time.
The other standardized question that they asked, as testers had to do with service animals.
JEN WHITE: There's another question. How did you know about the emails and did you have trouble obtaining them during discovery?
YIYANG WU: I think that was in relation to the Gilead matter. So we had—in terms of discovery to get, we had a wealth of Facebook posts that we started with, and there were various references in the Facebook post to I contacted the mayor, or the mayor said this in an email. I don't think the city would have had a leg to stand on if they opposed getting the email. Some of the emails went to the mayor's personal gmail, for example. But again, we didn't litigate the issue.
But I would say certainly in this day and age, email—people are very brazen in their emails, and it's—it would be great to look both in personal and work emails for discriminatory statements. Like I said, there were some very bad ones in them.
JEN WHITE: That looks like that's all the direct questions that were in the chat.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: Okay. Well, thank you so much. So please—I put my email in the chat. I wasn't thinking ant the fact that when you're screen sharing, maybe people can't click on the links or easily kind of click through to see people's contact information. So if those are not shared from tenBroek directly on their site, please feel free to reach out to me and I'm happy to put you in touch with any of the panelists, provide you with the slides, etc.
Thank you so much to all our panelists and to everyone for joining us today. We know it's the end of the day, so we really appreciate you sticking with us. When 'know we tried to cram a lot of content in. We appreciate you attending and sticking around. We hope you'll be in touch with any follow up questions. Thanks a lot.
YIYANG WU: And Angela included the slides in the chat.
SHIRA WAKSCHLAG: Excellent. Thank you, Angela.
ANGELA GROVES: No problem. Thank you, thanks, everyone.
JEN WHITE: Have a great day, everybody.