HUD No. 04-085
HUD CHARGES BOISE PUBLISHER WITH VIOLATIONS OF FAIR HOUSING
Thrifty Nickel Newspaper Contains Discriminating Advertisements
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Housing and Urban Development said today it has charged the Want Ads of Boise, Inc., the publisher of the Thrifty Nickel, with violating the Fair Housing Act by accepting and publishing housing ads that excluded potential owners and renters because of their familial status.
The charge stems from a September 2003 complaint filed by the Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure inclusive housing for all people throughout Idaho.
Between August and October 2003, the IFHC found the locally published Thrifty Nickel newspaper published and housing advertisements that indicated a preference based on familial status that excluded children.
Typical of the illegal ads that ran were the following:
- August 28, 2003 - "FOR RENT: Small, furnished, 1 bedroom house $500 per month, utilities paid. No children or pets?
- August 28, September 4, and September 18, 2003 - "GREAT DEAL 2 bedroom condo with a pool Boise Beach area only $550. 2 bedroom mobile home located in a great adult-type park in Mountain Home $295. ?
- September 18, 2003 - "TOWNHOUSE in newer subdivision- 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, two car garage air, gas, fireplace, Deadend culdesac. Private, quiet, central to downtown, airport, Micron, BSU. Ideal for the students, couples, empty nesters. ?
- September 18, 2003 - "NEW 2 BEDROOM, single wide trailer, in country between Nampa and Meridian. Single person?
"We are discovering that some newspapers either do not understand or simply are not complying with the Fair Housing Act," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. "HUD is committed to enforcing the nation's fair housing laws, and we will act vigorously to keep people' rights to live wherever they wish from being violated."
This is the second fair housing complaint HUD investigated against the Thrifty Nickel, a publication with a circulation of 42,000. In 1996, a housing discrimination complaint was filed for publication of a rental advertisement in the Thrifty Nickel specifying "no children." The complaint was conciliated and closed by HUD in 1998. As part of the conciliation, Thrifty Nickel employees who accepted ads were required to receive training in the advertising requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
A hearing on the current charges will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on November 16 in the Boise area, unless either the complainant or respondent elect to have the case decided by a federal judge in U.S. District Court. An election to go to district court must be made by September 7.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an ALJ carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense - more if the respondent has committed prior violations of the Act - plus actual damages for the complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney fees.
Should either party elect to go to district court, either party may request a jury trial. A district court may award the damages available in an administrative proceeding, and may also award punitive damages.
In either forum, the case is brought on behalf of the complainant, and the complaint is enforced by an attorney from HUD before a U.S. Administrative Law Judge or an Assistant United States Attorney or an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice. Also, each party has the right to be represented by their own attorney.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available www.usdoj.gov.