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Opening Acts: December 18, 2020

Disability Discrimination Alleged in Lawsuit

BRONX LANDLORD REFUSED TO MODIFY HOUSING TO MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE TO A TENANT AND HER ADULT DAUGHTER WITH DISABILITIES

On November 10, 2020, Ms. Debora Ramirez filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for Southern District of New York against her landlord, 2020 Grand Realty, LLC.  Ms. Ramirez alleges her landlord refused to make reasonable modifications to her apartment and the rental building to make it accessible for her adult daughter who has multiple physical disabilities.   The lawsuit alleges unlawful discrimination based on disability under the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York City Human Rights Law.

As a primary caregiver to her daughter with disabilities, Ms. Ramirez requested reasonable modifications to the building’s entrance and within her unit to provide access for her daughter’s custom-made wheelchair.  Her requests were repeatedly denied over the course of a decade at the Bronx building where she has resided for 27 years.

In the Fall of 2019, Ms. Ramirez sought assistance from the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC).  The FHJC retained an architect to prepare a feasibility report for modifications to the building entrance and the unit’s bathroom with funding from its Adele Friedman Housing Accessibility Fund.  The Fund provides resources to assist income-eligible persons with disabilities who are requesting modifications to their current housing.  On April 15, 2020, Ms. Ramirez, through her attorney, requested the modifications recommended by the architect.  The landlord denied the request.

Ms. Ramirez commented, “Thank you to the Fair Housing Justice Center for their continued advocacy and fighting for wheelchair accessibility.  Getting a ramp in my building would improve the quality of life for me and my family.”

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “Refusing to make reasonable modifications that would allow Ms. Ramirez and her daughter to access, use, and enjoy their apartment violates fair housing laws.  It is housing discrimination, plain and simple.”  Freiberg added, “The FHJC assisted Ms. Ramirez to exercise her fair housing rights under the law and we are pleased that she used our accessibility fund to pay for an architect to identify how the building and her apartment could be made more accessible for her and her daughter.”

Ms. Ramirez is represented by Andrew Darcy, Omolola Omoyosi and Tiffany Liston, with Mobilization for Justice, Inc.

FHJC’s assistance in this 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 mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (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.