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Fair Housing Justice Center Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Multiple Adult Care Facilities

Updated: Jul 8

Complaint alleges owners and operators violated the Fair Housing Act and the Affordable Care Act by applying a blanket policy of turning away wheelchair-users.

older woman in wheelchair

The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) has initiated a disability discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit targets several owners and operators of adult care facilities across New York State, alleging discriminatory practices that affect residents with disabilities. The complaint alleges that the owners and operators in favor of prospective residents who did not use wheelchairs.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include:


  • Harbor View Senior Living Residence LLC, which operates Harbor View Home for Adults in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Amber Court of Brooklyn LLC and Amber Court of Westbury II LLC, which manage Amber Court of Westbury, an adult care home and assisted living residence in Westbury, NY.

  • Lakehaven Equities Inc., which operates The Lake Shore Assisted Living Residence, an adult care facility in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY.

  • Judith Lyn Home for Adults LLC, responsible for Amber Court of Pelham Gardens, an adult care facility in the Bronx.

  • Amber Court @ Suffolk County LLC, which runs Amber Court of Smithtown, an adult care facility in Nesconset, NY.


The FHJC contends that these facilities have engaged in discriminatory practices that violate the Fair Housing Act, specifically targeting individuals with disabilities. The allegations include refusal to provide reasonable accommodations, failure to make necessary modifications to premises, and other actions that impede equal access to housing and services for residents with disabilities.


In the complaint, the FHJC describes a pattern of systemic discrimination across these facilities, detailing instances where residents with disabilities were denied the accommodations necessary for their daily living. This includes, but is not limited to, modifications to living spaces and the provision of auxiliary aids and services.

FHJC began an investigation in the sued facilities last year, assigning testers to pose as family members seeking admission information for relatives using wheelchairs. Testing occurred between May and July 2023. 


Rather than conducting an individualized determination of eligibility assessment or providing a “reasonable accommodation,” wheelchair-users were told to “look elsewhere for housing and services.” The complaint added that wheelchair-users were not allowed to tour the facilities or meet with staff members.


The lawsuit seeks to address these violations and compel the defendants to implement changes that ensure compliance with federal laws protecting individuals with disabilities. The FHJC also seeks monetary damages for the impacted residents and penalties to deter future discriminatory practices.


FHJC Executive Director, Fred Freiberg, stated, "Discrimination against people with disabilities in housing is not only illegal but also morally reprehensible. This lawsuit is a crucial step towards ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, have access to safe and accommodating living environments."


The FHJC's action highlights ongoing challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in securing fair and equal housing. As the case proceeds, it may set significant precedents for the treatment of disabled individuals in adult care facilities nationwide.

The Fair Housing Justice Center encourages individuals who have experienced similar discrimination to come forward and share their experiences. The organization remains committed to advocating for the rights of all individuals to fair and equal housing opportunities.


“Blanket policies that treat wheelchair users as a monolith, while allowing all other prospective residents to proceed with residential application processes, constitutes disability discrimination,” Cass Sicherer, FHJC disability justice and accessibility legal fellow, said in a statement. “Owners and operators of adult care facilities cannot rely on false assumptions and stereotypes about people with disabilities in the creation of their policies. They must treat all prospective residents equally.”

 


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