Virginia Beach settles HUD claim after fair housing complaint

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Updated Friday, May 23 at 6:11 AM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- The City of Virginia Beach is taking steps to better accommodate people with disabilities who seek housing assistance as part of a voluntary settlement agreement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The agreement comes after a Virginia Beach woman filed a complaint against the city, claiming the Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation violated federal law by not providing her a place to live that met the needs of her disability.

Maude Turner filed the complaint in April 2012.

A May 14 letter obtained by 13News Now from City Manager James Spore to members of the city council does not elaborate on the specific nature of the complaint made by Turner but says she became homeless as a result of the city's alleged wrongdoing.

In his letter, Spore said the city did not violate federal law.

Read the letter here

"As we said at that time, it is staff's position that we did everything within HUD regulations to assist Ms. Turner," Spore wrote. "Events that Ms. Turner complained about were not within Virginia Beach's authority to rectify."

Nevertheless, HUD found the city to be in non-compliance with the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

HUD's original ruling came in September 2013. The city appealed that ruling last October but HUD denied the city's appeal in February.

A previous review of this case by the Virginia Fair Housing Office made before HUD's determination found Turner's complaint to be unfounded.

According to Spore's letter, the voluntary settlement agreement requires the city to pay Turner a total of $16,960 to cover moving expenses and damages.

The city is also required to make changes to processes and personnel that handle reasonable accommodation requests made by people with disabilities.

The City of Virginia Beach released the following statement to 13News Now:
The City of Virginia Beach strongly disagrees with HUD’s finding. We believe the city did indeed make reasonable accommodations for Ms. Turner. Because there is no viable means of appeal, we have agreed to the terms of the voluntary compliance agreement to end this matter and move forward.
--City Attorney Mark Stiles
May 22, 2014

 

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