Aug 25, 2014

HUD charges Kent State University with housing discrimination over denial of a student's right to keep a therapy dog in university housing


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Kent State University (KSU) and four employees with violating the Fair Housing Act after they denied a student's request to keep a therapy dog in a university apartment for emotional support.
The student suffers from "panic disorder and anxiety" and needs the support animal to function in school.
In a press release, the HUD Assistant Secretary said that "Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life". "The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation's fair housing laws are violated," Velazquez said.
In contrast, the university released the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "Kent State University is aware of the charges stemming from claims made several years ago.  Helping our students succeed remains a top priority, and we look forward to discussing the facts of this case at the appropriate time."
A letter from the psychologist, quoted by HUD, stated that the student had benefited greatly in the past from having a pet, and requested that the university "take into consideration her [the student's] mental health disorder when considering her request."

The student seeks $16,000 in civil damages from the university and each person named in the charges. The agency said that the charge will be refer to a federal administrative law judge for hearing or if any of the parties choose to have the case heard in federal district court, the case will be heard be a federal judge.