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State Finds Probable Cause in FHJC Disability Discrimination Case

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

March 28, 2024

CASE TO PROCEED AT NYS HUMAN RIGHTS DIVISION OR IN COURT

The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced today that the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has found that probable cause exists to believe the adult care facility operators, Boulevard ALP Associates LLC, Queens Boulevard ALP LLC, engaged in or are engaging in housing discrimination against people with disabilities who use wheelchairs. The case will now proceed either at the DHR or through court action. Full details of DHR’s determination can be read HERE.

The case stems from a 2022 investigation conducted by the FHJC in response to a complaint it received about the facilities’ policies regarding wheelchairs. The investigation found discriminatory statements on the facilities’ websites claiming they do not accept residents who “chronically” use wheelchairs. The investigation also revealed disparate treatment by the Respondents toward testers who claimed to be applying on behalf of relatives who used wheelchairs and testers who claimed to be applying on behalf of relatives who could walk without assistance. The original complaint can be read HERE.

“The law in this case is clear: Housing providers may not discriminate against people with disabilities,” stated FHJC Executive Director/General Counsel Elizabeth Grossman. “The facts are equally clear: Boulevard ALP is a housing provider who refused to rent to people with disabilities who use wheelchairs; they clearly stated this policy in their advertising; and they refused to make reasonable accommodations in their rules and policies for wheelchair users. We look forward to moving ahead with this matter to hold Boulevard ALP accountable and to ensure their fair treatment of people with disabilities.”

In February 2023, the New York State Department of Health announced changes to its regulations regarding discrimination against individuals with mobility impairments seeking to live in adult care facilities like the Boulevard ALPs. The rules now explicitly state that adult care facilities: 1) must individually assess people who use wheelchairs for residency; 2) must consider requests for reasonable accommodations from people with disabilities; and 3) can no longer outright bar individuals with mobility impairments, including people who use wheelchairs, from residency. These regulatory changes were driven by a lawsuit brought by the FHJC in 2018. Details of the announcement can be read HERE.

FHJC’s investigation in the Boulevard case was supported with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The FHJC is represented in this complaint by attorneys Kevin Cremin, Tanya Kessler, and Jota Borgmann with Mobilization for Justice, Inc.

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.