Trapped by Unreasonable Landlord, Woman Says

     CHICAGO (CN) — A wheelchair-bound Chicago woman has been trapped in her apartment for days because her landlord refuses to replace a wheelchair lift that’s been removed for a 2-month project, the woman claims in court.
     Julie Falco sued her property manager, Mod Management Services, and property owner Thomas Scheidt on Tuesday in Federal Court.
     Falco, who has multiple sclerosis, has lived in the north side apartment building for 20 years, she says in the complaint. As the disease progressed, it left her unable to climb the stairs to her apartment.
     Falco says she herself got the money to install the lift, by “secur(ing) funding through the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to install a wheelchair lift at the back entrance of her apartment building.”
     To her surprise, she says, Mod Management refused to let her install the lift for more than a year. With help from an attorney, she got it installed in February 2015. Now, 17 months later, her nemeses are removing it.
     The landlord and property manager informed her on July 6 “that on July 9, 2016 the porch behind her building would be replaced as part of a project projected to last two months,” the complaint states.
     Falco says they refused any of the accommodations she requested: a different apartment during construction, delaying the work until they can figure out how to get her a lift, and reinstallation of the lift after the work is done.
     She says her attorneys at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago called Mod Management “to identify the concerns she had with the project — namely, that she would have no way to enter or exit her apartment and that the lift would be damaged.”
     But on June 30 the porch was torn down “except the area where her lift is installed,” leaving debris that she had difficulty getting through, and on July 8, she says, Mod Management “demolished the porch behind Ms. Falco’s apartment and took out the lift,” but assured her it would be back up within a day.
     But it wasn’t she says. According to the July 12 lawsuit, she still has “no way to get in or out of her apartment” and “is still trapped.”
     Mod Management Services did not respond to a voicemail requesting comment.
     Falco seeks punitive damages for Fair Housing Act violations and retaliation, and an injunction ordering the defendants to learn about, and comply with, the Fair Housing Act.
     She is represented by Charles Petrof, with Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago.

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