Mike Popham relies on his battery powered wheelchair to get around. Mike is a disabled Navy veteran, and he received the wheel chair from the V-A Hospital last year. The only problem is the house where he was living at the time lacked the proper wiring to accomodate it.
When mike asked his landlord to install a new outlet so he could charge his wheelchair, Mike says he was told "no."
"I asked them to comply to make the corrections and they did not want to do it," he told News 4.
Mike and his roommate, Carolena Lima, say the next thing they knew they were being evicted from the home they'd been renting on Poplar Street.
"We got real angry. But we had to sit back and and say, okay, we've got a problem, what's the solution ?" Caroleena said.
The solution they felt was to file a complaint with the Office of Housing and Urban Development. A discrimination complaint. They asked for three thousand dollars to cover their moving costs and the deposits they had to pay after they were evicted.
Less than three months after their complaint was filed they received a settlement check for $3,000 from Corazon Real Estate, the property management company which had evicted them. While there was no finding of fault, the terms of the settlement also require employees at Corazon Real Estate to attend classes to learn how to comply with fair housing laws.
Management at Corazon Real Estate declined to speak on camera about this case. Instead they issued a short written statement making it clear that in spite of the settlement , they do not agree with the allegations.
The statement reads in part, "As every small business owner knows, there are times when we must settle frivolus matters -- disgusting as it may feel to have to do it."
But when News 4 contacted the Office of Housing and Urban Development in San Francisco they told us the complaint raised was indeed a legitimate one, because the accomodation in this case, the power outlet, was considered necessary in order for Mike to have full use of his home.
"On the face of it it appreared to be a reasonable request. The person seeking the request was disabled. The person needed a wheelchair for mobility purposes," said Anne Quezada with Housing and Urban Development.
For Mike and Carolena there is satisfaction in knowing their complaint was heard. What they really want now is for others to learn from their experience, and avoid becoming victims of discrimination. Mike put it this way:
"No matter who has a disability, whether its a father, mother , son or daughter.
That they don't come across this problem."
The Office of Housing and Urban Development receives more than a thousand complaints every year in our region which includes Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona and California. They point out you do not need an attorney in order to file a complaint and have your case investigated.