Albuquerque complex pays $13,000 for refusing to transfer disabled Black couple to first floor unit

US Department of Housing and Urban Development Administrative Law Judge Constance O'Bryant approved a $13,000 cash settlement in July to resolve a complaint of both racial and disability discrimination against an Albuquerque, New Mexico apartment compl ex.

Leonard and Ruth Adonis, an elderly, Black couple, will receive the monetary settlement because the complex's managers refused to transfer them to a ground floor apartment. In addition to the money, the settlement called for the complex to adopt a written tenant transfer policy and a transfer waiting list that can be inspected by tenants.

In 1993, the Adonis's were living in a second floor apartment at Eubank Heights Apartments in Albuquerque. Leonard Adonis spoke several times to Mayfair Meacham, Eubank Heights' on-site property manager, about moving into a ground floor unit because he and his wife were getting older and their health was not as "good as it used to be." Eubank Heights also had no elevator. Leonard Adonis explained that it was becoming increasingly difficult for he and his wife to get up a nd down the stairs to their apartment. Each time Leonard Adonis requested to move to a ground floor unit, he was told by Meacham that none were available.

In August 1993, Leonard Adonis wrote to Ann Tekin-Behles, the president of Select Properties, the company that managed Eubank Heights. In the letter, he explained that he had made several requests to move to the first floor because of his age and health. In October 1993, Tekin-Behles wrote back, saying that the Adonis' lease would not be renewed when it expired and they would have to vacate their apartment.

According to a HUD investigation, a ground floor unit was available in the Adonis' building at the time Leonard Adonis made his requests. Select Properties rented that apartment to a nondisabled tenant in September 1993. The investigation also f ound that white disabled tenants were transferred to ground floor units without written requests and that Meacham lied to Leonard Adonis when she said ground floor units were not available. Investigators learned that she had shown ground floor units to ot her prospective tenants after Leonard Adonis had made requests to move.

HUD alleged in its complaint that Meacham and Tekin-Behles discriminated against Leonard and Ruth Adonis because of their race, color, and handicap by refusing to transfer them to a ground floor unit. HUD claimed that Select Properties could offer no explanation as to why white tenants were transferred to different apartments regularly while the Adonis's were told that no units were available.

The respondents in the case claimed they did not intentionally discriminate against anyone. Judge O'Bryant approved the settlement without a full hearing. Leonard and Ruth Adonis have since moved into a ground floor unit at Eubank Heights.

Filed with HUD: June 15, 1994

Charge Issued: December 20, 1995

ALJ Hearing: June 18, 1996

Order: July 10, 1996