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Feds accuse Grapevine Housing Authority of disability discrimination

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the Grapevine Housing Authority discriminated against a tenant in their property in violation of federal fair housing law.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the Grapevine Housing Authority discriminated against a tenant in their property in violation of federal fair housing law.

Federal housing officials have accused the Grapevine Housing Authority and two top officials of violating fair housing law by discriminating against a tenant for issues stemming from his diabetes. The City of Grapevine rejects the claims and said it acted to protect the safety of its tenants.

According to a charging document filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the civil case, the housing authority tried to evict a tenant from a city-owned senior apartments complex because he acted erratically during a medical episode.

“A person’s disability should never interfere with their ability to maintain access to safe and affordable housing,” Demetria L. McCain, the department’s assistant deputy secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said in a press release. “Today’s charge demonstrates HUD's steadfast commitment to take appropriate action when housing providers fail to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”

In an emailed statement, Grapevine City Attorney Matthew Boyle called the claims “baseless.”

“The Charge lacks merit both factually and legally,” Boyle said, adding that the tenant was “was fully and reasonably accommodated as he was never forced to vacate his unit at the Grapevine Housing Authority.”

According to the HUD charges, the tenant grew disoriented and confused in September 2020 due to low blood sugar and high blood pressure. He wanted to visit his mother at her apartment a mile down the road but couldn’t find his phone or remember how to get there.

Around 3 o’clock in the morning, tenant knocked on several neighbors’ doors in the complex to ask for help, according to the HUD document.

Grapevine’s Boyle said in that the tenant, who he refers to as the “charging party,” tried to “forcibly enter” his neighbors’ apartments.

“The Housing Authority is obligated to provide a safe place for all of its tenants to reside. The Housing Authority could not sit idly by and ignore the frightening and dangerous acts of the Charging Party especially when two of those tenants’ lodged complaints about his acts,” Boyle said.

Police were called and eventually took him home. The next day, the tenant was treated for ketonuria and hypertension at an emergency room.

In the following days, after receiving a police report and complaints from neighbors about the tenant’s knocking, Grapevine Housing Authority Executive Jane Everett began the process of evicting the tenant.

In emails to staff members, she questioned whether the tenant’s medical crisis was the result of diabetes or “excessive alcohol,” the HUD charge stated. Police did not smell alcohol on the tenant on the night of the episode, and he denied drinking.

Everett is one of the housing authority officials HUD charged with disability discrimination.

The tenant then had an administrative hearing that was overseen by Bonnie McHugh, vice chair of the housing authority’s board of commissioners and the other official charged by HUD.

Asked why he was “banging on doors,” the tenant told McHugh that he was afraid he was dying and that he felt “like his heart was going to explode,” and he wanted help because he couldn’t find his phone or remember how to get to his mother’s home. He said he’d previously had two heart attacks, and that he was told his blood pressure was at “stroke level” when he went to the hospital.

McHugh upheld the lease termination. In a letter, the authority explained that he was being evicted because he “threatened the safety of the residents.” According to HUD, the letter also told him he couldn’t visit his mother because she lives in a Grapevine Housing Authority property, and that “If you are discovered on GHA property, you are jeopardizing your mother’s lease, her lease will be terminated.”

After a justice of the peace ruled in favor of the housing authority and ordered the tenant’s eviction, the tenant appealed. After that, he suffered a series of health issues and was hospitalized multiple times, delaying the legal proceedings for several months.

Eventually, the housing authority decided not to continue suing for eviction and allowed the tenant to renew his lease in September 2021. But according to the HUD document, the tenant was still fearful that the authority would try again to evict him for the 2020 episode and decided to move out a few months later.

“As a result of Respondents’ discriminatory conduct, Complainant suffered actual damages including, but not limited to physical and emotional distress, inconvenience, and out-of-pocket expenses,” the HUD charging document states.

HUD is asking that the court to order the Grapevine Housing Authority, Everett and McHugh to pay a fine of $24,793 each and pay monetary damages to the tenant, and to attend a training on the Fair Housing Act’s disability discrimination prohibitions.

Got a tip? Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Email Christopher at You can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.

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Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.