HUD: Senior facilities can’t collect medical data

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

A chain of southeast Michigan “independent living” facilities will stop collecting private medical information on residents and prohibiting their return following hospital stays under a settlement announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Huntington Management LLC, which owns six Oakmont Senior Communities in Metro Detroit, also agreed to pay $35,000 to a former employee who alleges she was fired for questioning the fairness of Oakmont’s housing practices.

An unnamed former employee, who worked primarily at Oakmont in Livonia, filed a complaint with HUD in April 2013, saying she was fired for challenging management’s policy of monitoring resident’s private medical information and then using it to discriminate on the basis of disability.

Adam Kalaydjian, director of operations for Huntington Management, who was named in the complaint, would not comment Monday on the case.

The federal department said policies in the Oakmont rental and services contract revealed an environment of tight control over residents. Under the agreement with HUD, Oakmont can no longer monitor tenants’ diets, require them to operate mobility devices at the lowest speed, demand authorization to use residents’ ATM cards to withdraw payments or make them sign in and out when they leave the property.

It’s the first HUD enforcement action involving independent living facilities in Michigan. It’s among four actions announced by HUD Monday, including others in New Hampshire, California and Alabama.

“All residents had to provide their medical records as a condition of tenancy and anyone who went to the hospital had to demonstrate that they were capable of independent living before they could return,” a HUD spokesman said Monday.

The agreement involves Oakmont Livonia, Oakmont Northville, Oakmont Manor and Oakmont Sterling, both in Sterling Heights, and Oakmont Parkway in Clinton Township. All five facilities market themselves as offering “independent and enhanced care.”

A sixth facility, Oakmont Sterling Assisted, is not involved in the agreement.

“A settlement like this one in Michigan compensates the person who is willing to come forward,” said Gustavo Velasquez, assistant secretary for fair housing at HUD. “(HUD’s action) sends a message to all independent living properties in Michigan that they must not violate the fair Housing Act and must not retaliate against whistle-blowers who bring Fair Housing Act violation to their attention.”

kbouffard@detroitnews.com