CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Meadowbrook Apartments in North Chesterfield has agreed to make changes after a discrimination investigation by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. (HOME).
HOME alleged Meadowbrook Apartments discriminated against the disabled because the property would not accept Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as income.
“In the complaint, HOME claimed that this policy constituted housing discrimination against people with disabilities because 100 percent of SSDI recipients are disabled,” a HOME spokesperson said. “[Property owner] W.S. Carnes, Inc. responded to the complaint and denied that it discriminates against any tenant or prospective tenant on the basis of disability.”
After the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) investigated, it proposed a settlement which included the following actions by W.S. Carnes, Inc.:
- Set aside a $20,000 fund to make reasonable modifications to units as requested by people with disabilities
- Pay $20,000 to HOME for the time and resources used in the investigation
- Train staff on fair housing laws
- Market Meadowbrook’s housing opportunities and its reasonable modification fund to Richmond-area disability advocacy groups.
“For more than 40 years, we have strived to maintain a welcoming and comfortable environment for all of our tenants at Meadowbrook Apartments, including individuals with disabilities,” Paul Carnes, President of W.S. Carnes, Inc., said. “We take our responsibility to be an equal opportunity housing provider seriously and have always done our best to go above and beyond what is legally required. In this case, even before we found out about HOME’s complaint, we had already changed our rental policy to allow SSDI as an acceptable sole income source after members of our staff learned during an annual training course that excluding SSDI could be considered discriminatory.”
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on seven protected classes:
04. National origin
07. Familial status
Fair housing laws in Virginia offer an additional protection for individuals aged 55 years or older.