On August 5, 2020 Relman Colfax filed a Fair Housing Act administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleging that the owners and operators of the RiverWoods Senior Living Community in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, discriminated on the basis of disability against Ruth Gural, who has progressive memory loss and needs some help with activities of daily living. After years of living peacefully in her own apartment, RiverWoods threatened to evict her because her adult son insisted on staying with her—beginning in March 2020—to provide her care and support during the COVID pandemic, when RiverWoods sought to bar all family, friends and private caregivers from even visiting residents.
In May 2020, RiverWoods—a continuing care retirement community managed by Asbury Communities, Inc. (“Asbury”) and operated by Albright Care Services (“Albright”)—threatened to terminate Mrs. Gural’s residency because Harry Gural (who holds her power of attorney and became her primary caregiver) refused to abandon her.
Relman Colfax requested a reasonable accommodation on behalf of the Gurals, in the form of an exception to a usual visitation policy, to allow Harry to stay with his mother until the pandemic abated and it was safe for another private caregiver to return. After RiverWoods denied the request in July 2020 and threatened to sue Harry to remove him from the property, the firm filed the HUD complaint.
On January 12, 2022, HUD issued a Determination and Charge, finding reasonable cause to believe that Asbury and Albright discriminated against the Gurals because of Mrs. Gurals’ disability by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to let Harry stay with her as a live-in aide during the pandemic and threatening to terminate her tenancy. Right up to the present day, HUD said, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes it reasonable for the Gurals not to rely on third-party aides who could present a risk to Ruth’s health and would not create an undue financial and administrative burden or fundamentally alter RiverWoods’ program.
The Relman Colfax team consists of Reed Colfax and Sara Pratt.