Advocacy for one woman leads to system-wide change

DRTx client Lillian and her daughterLillian Gallow is deaf and requires the use of ASL interpreters for effective communication. At an important hearing, Houston Housing Authority (HHA) failed to provide a qualified interpreter for her and instead used her young daughter which led to a miscommunication that terminated her housing voucher, and she was ultimately served with an eviction notice.

Gallow contacted DRTx who filed a housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on her behalf, and DRTx successfully resolved the matter.

The housing authority offered Gallow another hearing in which they provided an interpreter at HHA’s expense. DRTx’s representation at the new hearing led to Ms. Gallow’s housing assistance being reinstated and back rent being paid by HHA to her landlord. The eviction was dismissed, and accommodations were made and implemented to ensure that Ms. Gallow will receive effective communication in future dealings with the HHA.

The settlement also brought organization-wide changes in HHA’s effective communication and interpreter policies. HHA is now required to inform employees of its policy to provide interpreter services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and to inform new voucher holders of their right to request reasonable accommodations, including interpreters. HHA also promised to only use qualified interpreters in the future.

“Our hope is that the systemic changes made to HHA’s effective communication and interpreter policies because of the settlement in this case will prevent future occurrences of similar situations,” indicated DRTx Attorney Christopher McGreal. Informational handouts and helpful links on housing are available on our housing resource page.