FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest, non-profit, global public health organization addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has filed state and federal court actions against the City of Fort Lauderdale, FL, challenging the City’s discriminatory actions in refusing to approve the organization’s application to build an affordable housing building in Fort Lauderdale, intended to support the general public need for affordable housing.
Through its subsidiary the Healthy Housing Foundation, AHF has broadened its scope of work to include developing affordable housing options in communities across the country. In Fort Lauderdale, AHF had been working with city officials to build a 15-story apartment building, on property located near its current regional office in downtown Fort Lauderdale, intended to serve the general public, with rents adjusted for affordability based on the residents’ income. The development also includes retail space, a parking garage and a fire-rescue station for the City. Though the application never stated any intent for the proposed building to give priority to individuals living with HIV/AIDS or that AHF planned to provide social services to residents at the building or at its nearby facility, the city refused to approve the application, incorrectly finding the proposed building was a social service residential facility (SSRF) that intended to give priority residency and social services to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The city staff did not make AHF aware of its view that the building was an SSRF before making its decision, nor did it provide any evidence to support this accusation.
Represented by Kendall Coffey, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, AHF filed a lawsuit Friday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that the City’s actions were discriminatory and violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the City’s review of AHF’s development application, City officials repeatedly stated that, because AHF provides services to people suffering from HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, they assumed (with no evidence) that AHF’s proposed apartment building also would serve the HIV/AIDS community and would include medical or social services. In essence, City officials refuse to believe that the apartment building is what it is – an apartment building – simply because AHF also serves the HIV/AIDS community. The City’s rejection of AHF’s proposed apartment building was based on animus toward AHF and the HIV/AIDS community, and was clearly discriminatory under the ADA and FHA.
In addition, AHF filed a separate action in the Broward County Circuit Court appealing the City’s determination that the proposed affordable housing building is an SSRF. This petition cites several defective procedures in the City’s review of AHF’s application to build the affordable housing building. The issues at hand included the City’s failure to provide AHF with notice and an opportunity to present evidence before making its decision; city officials being improperly influenced by opponents of the proposed development; and the lack of any evidence that AHF will provide services at the apartment building. City officials ignored AHF’s application and based their decision on AHF’s mission and its activities in other regions. Given these defects in the city’s procedure for review of AHF’s application, the organization asserts that the City violated its due process rights at every stage of the application review process, disregarded the basic requirements of the law during the review process and its determination that the building is an SSRF was not based on any competent substantial evidence.
“In the most rent burdened community in the nation, with a clear affordable housing crisis, it is deplorable that Fort Lauderdale city officials have responded to AHF’s support in addressing this issue, with such biases and discriminatory actions,” stated Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief. “This building will only benefit the residents of Fort Lauderdale that are unable to afford to live and work in this city.”
Due to the size of the documents, for copies of the full versions of both court actions, all media can send an email request to Imara Canady at email@example.com.
The Affordable Housing Crisis in Fort Lauderdale:
- Current statistics indicate that 789,000 Floridians spend more than half of their income on rent each month;
- 62% of people in South Florida are spending more than 30% on housing as of 2/1/18 (http://www.wlrn.org/post/florida-facing-affordable-housing-crisis);
- More than 44% of Broward County residents represent ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families that earn more than the poverty level but less than the basic cost of living in Broward. (https://browardhousingtrust.com/);
- The Miami/FTL/WPB area is the least affordable metropolis area FOR RENTALS in the U.S. as of 11/30/18 (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-30/renters-struggle-to-pay-for-housing-in-u-s-cities)
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.4 million individuals in 43 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare