FAIR HOUSING ASSOCIATION OF CONNECTICUT
45 LYON TERRACE
BRIDGEPORT, CT. 06604
APRIL 17, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
When Judy Williams asked the Carriage Crossing Condominium Association in Middletown, CT to provide her with a reasonable accommodation due to her disability in the fall of 1999 to enable her to participate along with other unit owners at the associations Annual Meeting, her request for a sign interpreter was denied. Providing a sign interpreter would have cost the association a total of $71.25. Last month, over a year later and after Judy had filed a discrimination complaint with the Connecticut Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities, Carriage Crossing has finally reached a settlement with Ms. Williams. This time it cost them $3,000.00!
After Judys request had been rejected in 1999, she sought out the assistance of the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut who helped her file her complaint as well as arranged for her to receive free legal representation from the Civil Rights Clinic of the University of Connecticut. Joe Wincze President of the statewide non-profit fair housing organization indicated that it was actually a shame that a complaint had to be filed in the first place. When Carriage Crossing initially turned down Judys request, we did not immediately jump up and file a complaint, Wincze stated. Instead, we contacted the condominiums property manager and explained to him their obligations under the state and federal fair housing laws to reasonably accommodate someone with a disability such as Judy. Judy was deaf; but she also was a unit owner and entitled to a vote at the Annual Meeting, and deserved the right to participate in a meaningful way like all the other unit owners. Unfortunately, their idea of reasonably accommodating Judy was to let her sit in the front of the meeting so she could read lips (not an exact science), but they refused to pay for an interpreter. This was not providing her with a reasonable accommodation.
Wincze insisted, however, that they even gave Carriage Crossing another chance to make things right before they filed the complaint. Judy did get a sign interpreter herself for the meeting; and when she received the bill for services rendered ($71.25), she forwarded it on to the association requesting they pay it. Their response was to mail it back to her and thats when the decision to file the complaint was made.
The settlement reached between Carriage Crossing and Ms. Williams includes the following: in addition to the payment of $3,000.00, the association must also promise to provide a) a sign language interpreter for each Annual Meeting of the condominium, b) a closed-captioned television set in the condominiums clubhouse, and c) all communication with Judy be either in writing or by TTY.
This is a case that should have settled quickly and never should have dragged out for over a year, declared Wincze. The CT Commission On Human Rights and Opportunities made a CAUSE FINDING last summer believing that discrimination had taken place; and one week before it was to go to Hearing, a settlement was reached. Wincze indicates it was the patience of Ms. Williams and the fine representation provided her by the students of the UCONN Law School Civil Rights Clinic that eventually led to a decent and equitable settlement being achieved.
Contact Person: Joe Wincze, President, Fair Housing Association of Connecticut, 45 Lyon Terrace, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604 (203) 576-8323