The owners of an apartment building in Traer are facing a charge of violating the Fair Housing Act. Bryan Greene is deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“We’re alleging that the owners of this apartment complex refused to make what we’ve determined is a reasonable accommodation for a family with a child who has a disability,” Greene told Radio Iowa. The child, a seven-year-old girl, has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, roll over or sit up by herself.
She was living with her mother in a four-unit apartment building in Traer owned by John and Nancy Meany. The building had a “no pet” policy, but the mother asked the Meanys to permit them to have a 10-year-old, 45 pound Labrador retriever – who lived with them in a previous residence and alleviated stress for her daughter.
“The owners still regarded the dog as a pet and stated they were not going to make any changes to their policy that excluded animals altogether,” Greene said. Additionally, the Meanys allegedly told the mother if she got the animal, she would have to either move or pay more money to stay.
Greene says the mother had notes from a doctor and a therapist who both “prescribed” the animal as “emotional support” for the girl. The mother and child moved out of the building and to another apartment earlier this year. Greene said the new apartment cost more and is much farther from the child’s school.