The Urban League of Greater Miami
helped to desegregate public housing in Dade County, supported Miami's Fair Housing Ordinance, and over the past seven decades has spearheaded a number of housing projects in the county. Now, shockingly, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged the group with discrimination of its own.
HUD claims the league failed to provide a 71-year-old double amputee Vietnam War veteran accessible housing and threatened to evict him after he reached out to a city commissioner. HUD has charged Urban League Housing Corporation of Greater Miami Inc., its president, and a management company.
"They're not true," says Urban League President T. Willard Fair, who has served in that post since 1963, referring to the charges. "I've spent all my life fighting against discrimination, so I'm shocked that anyone would bring these charges against me."
HUD claims the Urban League violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to provide accessible housing to the wheelchair-bound veteran at the group's Covenant Palms housing project at
8400 NW 25th Ave. in Liberty City. The veteran's social worker asked the group to provide a unit with "accessible features, including wider doorways, or to transfer him to an accessible unit," but was refused.
The veteran then contacted an unnamed county commissioner, who intervened. HUD charges he was moved to another unit and then moved back six months later with no modifications made except that the stove was removed. They also charged he was threatened with eviction.
"Veterans deserve our thanks and respect whether their service to the nation was this year or 50 years ago," John Trasviña, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said in a statement. "Moreover, landlords have a legal obligation to grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations. HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet these fair housing responsibilities."
If the Urban League loses the case, it could be forced to pay damages, attorney fees, and other fines.