Trumbull, Conn., Housing Authority Settles Disabilty Discrimination Suit For $25,000

(Trumbull, Conn., Dec. 11, 2003) -- When determining her eligibilty for elderly housing, Christine Demotses did not feel comfortable providing intimate details of her psychiatric disability to the Trumbull Housing Authority when asked to do so. This caused her much distress, and the situation became exacerbated when she received her letter of rejection. A recent settlement for $25,000 has eased the pain somewhat, but Ms. Demotses only hopes now that no one else has to go through what she had to endure.

Even though she was not elderly herself, Ms. Demotses beleved she was eligble for elderly housing because of her disability when she applied in 2000. And in fact, upon submitting her Social Security Award Letter, she was added to the Trumbull Housing Authority waiting list without question. However, when her name came to the top of the list in 2001, her disability status suddenly came under tight scrutiny. Shortly after being notified they had an apartment for her, Ms. Demotses received a letter from THA asking specific details about the nature of her disability and requesting documentation be submitted supporting the disability. After inquiring what sort of additional documentation, Ms. Demotses was told she had to provide greater information as to what type of disability and was pressured into revealing an exact description of her condition complete with a doctor's diagnosis. She would have peferred to keep these details to herself but was led to believe if she did not provide them, they would view her as uncooperative and withdraw their offer of a unit. Instead, she subsequently received a rejection letter because of the information she revealed to them. When she asked specifically why she was rejected, they sent her a copy of the doctor's diagnosis in an obvious expression of disapproval.

A complaint was filed with the CT Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities by Ms. Demotses in February, 2002. In her affidavit, she claimed she was unfairly denied housing because of her disability and as a result was caused severe depression and anxiety, pain and humiliation. Shortly afterwards, she received assistance from the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut who aided her in getting an attorney to represent her. In August, 2002 Attorney Alan Rosner filed a fair housing complaint on her behalf in federal court in an effort to get full compensation. Finally in September, 2003 the parties reached a settlement of $25,000 plus the unit.

Joe Wincze- President of FHACT- remarked that it was a shame Ms. Demotses had to go through the ordeal she did. "To request specific details of an applicant's disability is clearly illegal under the Fair Housing Act. Once eligibility has been determined, there is no need to press for further disability details. And to pick and choose which disabilies are ok and which ones aren't is reprehensible. Hopefully, a lesson has been learned here!"