CityVision Services, a Texas based company in the business of filing HUD complaints, recently chose to withdraw a complaint rather than face investigation of its operations by HUD’s Region VII office. The details remain confidential (they involve one of our clients) but the broad picture of how this happened can help other victims of CityVision complaints deal with them.
In this particular case CityVision filed two complaints; one on behalf of an individual claiming disability discrimination and one on its own behalf. Like all the complaints CityVision files on its own behalf it contained a short and completely misleading statement of its history and operations. It claimed, for example, to have been established 23 years ago to file complaints on behalf of victims of discrimination, when in fact the present incarnation of CityVision was created in 2015 in order to file complaints on its own behalf.
The apartment owner and management filed a response denying that CityVision had standing to file HUD complaints because it had not suffered any damages in the form of “frustration of mission” or “diversion of resources.” These are the two theories under which organizations that have not been victims of discrimination can suffer the kind of damages needed to have standing to file complaints. The response detailed CityVision’s short history, family ownership, and lack of any real mission to help the disabled. On December 8, 2016, CityVision voluntarily withdrew the complaint, thus cutting off any investigation by HUD of its financial condition and operations. It is impossible to know the thoughts of Gary Lacefield and his family, the owners of CityVision, but it seems likely they knew that any investigation of their operation would reveal that it did little or nothing beyond make money for its owner through the dialing for dollars operation described in our earlier blogs.
It seems likely that a defendant willing to mount a defense to a CityVision complaint will, if it properly attacks CityVision’s standing, obtain a voluntary dismissal or cheap settlement. The needed facts can all be found in public records, so this is just a matter of time and effort. The same kind of arguments will apply to Fair Housing Advocates and Gratus Partners. These supposed non-profits are owned by Patrick Coleman, one of the owners of CityVision, and they engage in the same dialing for dollars money making scheme.
Those who want more history on these groups can read our earlier blogs, Dialing for Dollars, Good News for the Fair Housing Act and CityVision and Fair Housing Advocates Seek Greener Pastures. We would love to hear your stories of victories over these entities, whether in the form of outright dismissal or cheap settlement.