Orlando, FL - Calvary Towers, a HUD senior housing facility, yesterday retracted its prior decision to remove all Christmas decorations. This decision came on the heels of the decision by another senior housing facility to reverse its decision to censor Christian Christmas decorations at Orlando Cloisters. Liberty Counsel got involved with both facilities after being contacted by residents.
Management at Calvary Towers sent a memo to the residents advising that religious decorations of any kind would not be allowed on the premises. In a similar situation earlier this week, Liberty Counsel intervened on behalf of Orlando Cloisters residents after management had issued a directive to strip the common areas of religious symbols or words. Not surprisingly, Southeastern Property Management (SPM), based out of Alabama, manages both properties. Liberty Counsel conferenced with SPM's attorney and HUD attorneys regarding the directive at Orlando Cloisters and to set the record straight about the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas. HUD also advised SPM that its directive was not proper. SPM finally got the message. As a result, yesterday, management at Calvary Towers sent a memo to the residents that SPM will still oversee the decorations around the building, but residents can decorate their doors and apartments as they wish. There will be a table in the lobby to display diverse symbols of the season, including a Nativity scene.
Southeastern Property Management now understands the importance of the freedoms allotted to the residents of the centers they manage. SPM manages properties in eleven states.
The federal Fair Housing Act protects people against discrimination in housing, including religious discrimination. Facilities such as homes for seniors cannot legally censor out the Christian aspects of the Christmas holiday.
Senior housing facilities which receive federal funding may not sanitize Christmas. The federal Fair Housing Act protects religious freedom and bans religious discrimination. It is nonsensical to think that the receipt of federal funds requires the recipient facility to secularize the federal holiday we call Christmas. Censoring Christmas defies logic and federal law.