FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Wednesday that it has charged Arlington with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to approve proposals for affordable housing unless limited to elderly residents.

In adopting this policy, city officials allegedly made statements indicating that they considered residents with children to be problematic. HUD’s Charge arose from a complaint filed with the Department by a developer whose proposal to construct nearly a hundred non-age restricted units of affordable housing was blocked because of the city’s policy.

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“Policies that prevent the creation of housing that families with children need are not only unlawful, they make it even more difficult for them to find decent, affordable places to call home,” said Anna María Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s action reaffirms HUD’s ongoing commitment to addressing discriminatory practices that violate the nation’s housing laws.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination, including in government policies, that makes housing unavailable because families have children.

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“HUD will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act to ensure that discriminatory policies do not interfere with the construction of affordable housing for families with children,” said Michael B. Williams, HUD’s Principal Deputy General Counsel.

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney’s fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.

Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint of discrimination by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 or visiting How to File a Complaint on HUD’s website. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency.

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People who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.