In May of 2017, Rwana Anderson called the Fair Housing Program of ATC under the belief that she had been discriminated against based on disability (a physical or mental condition that significantly limits one or more major life activities).
In late April of 2017, Ms. Anderson and her son were shown a unit at the Land- ing at Round Rock by leasing agent Lucia House. Ms. Anderson was very interested in applying for housing at the Landing at Round Rock and told House that she had a service animal. House requested that Ms. Anderson email a picture of her animal and a doctor’s note to her. On April 27, 2017, Ms. Anderson sent House a picture of her service animal, Lela, a pit bull, along with a prescription for her service animal from a medical professional.
The next day, House replied to this email that American Pit Bulls were a restricted breed at the property and that Ms. Anderson should apply at The Royal Apartments because they do not have breed restrictions. According to the Fair Housing Act, service and support animals cannot be restricted due to their breed or weight. House refused to rent to Ms. Anderson because of her reasonable accommodation request. House was also involved in steering, the practice of dissuading a renter from certain housing based on race, disability, or another protected class, while offering an “alternative” place to rent. Ms. Anderson was devastated, as this was an affordable unit in a great location for her and her family.
Ms. Anderson began working with Alex
Tingquist, Fair Housing Specialist. Mr. Tingquist assisted Ms. Anderson in ling a fair housing complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. On July 14, 2017, Ms. Anderson’s fair housing complaint was assigned to the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division for an investigation. As was advised by Mr. Tingquist, Ms. Anderson kept diligent notes and receipts of all the damages that she and her family suffered as a result of being denied housing at the Landing at Round Rock.
The complaint was investigated and conciliated successfully. Ms. Anderson received $6,000 for her damages and the staff of The Michelson Organization property management team agreed to have staff members at six of their apartment complexes attend fair housing training. Although it took many months of hard work, consistency, and yes, frustration, Ms. Anderson is thrilled to have seen her case end successfully. Ms. Anderson also hopes that her fair housing case will teach and motivate other tenants to come forward with fair housing complaints. She was reminded of something her aunt, Mae Ola Price, told her about injustice: “Tell your story until someone hears you”.
At ATC, staff aims to educate tenants and housing providers on their rights and responsibilities in their respective roles. If you are unsure about your rights and responsibilities as a housing provider, then ask for help and get information.
If you believe that you or your family may have been discriminated against, please call the Fair Housing Program at 512-474- 1961, or submit a Fair Housing complaint through our website, housing-rights.org.