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CUOMO SAYS PENNSYLVANIA MOBILE HOME PARK OWNERS AGREE TO PAY $9,250 TO SETTLE COMPLAINTS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that the owners of a mobile home park near Erie, PA, have agreed to pay $9,250 to settle housing discrimination complaints accusing them of refusing to permit a family with children to live in the park.
The family denied entry to the park - Scott and Karin Muffie and their daughters, now ages 7 and 3 - are using the $8,500 they received in the settlement to help buy another home near Erie. They expect to leave their apartment and move into the new home around Thanksgiving.
"We will not allow parenthood to make mothers and fathers victims of illegal housing discrimination," Cuomo said. "Raising a family is hard enough without the added burden of being denied needed housing."
Henry and Elizabeth Lorence, owners of the Linden Avenue Mobile Home Park, were accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent space in the park in February to the Muffie family.
Michael and Karen Bond, who were trying to sell their mobile home in the Lorence's mobile home park, said Henry Lorence refused to permit the Muffies and at least five other potential buyers who were found creditworthy to occupy the mobile home in the park.
Michael Bond said Henry Lorence told him he did not want to rent the Bond's lot in the park to families with children, or to people of "breeding age."
The Muffies said Lorence told them he could not allow families with children to live in the mobile home park because they might bother elderly residents. Lorence also allegedly said he did not have facilities for children in his park.
Scott Muffie said: "I was quite shocked when he (Lorence) said that. I hope this settlement sends a message that people have got to obey the law. Everyone should have equal opportunity to get affordable housing."
Because moving an established mobile home is costly and difficult, the Bonds and Muffies said Henry Lorence's refusal to let the Muffies live in the park had the practical effect of killing the sale. The Bonds later sold their home to another buyer.
HUD investigated the complaints and was prepared to issue charges of discrimination, but agreed to resolve the dispute with an enforcement agreement that provides for the Lorences to pay $8,500 to the Muffies and $750 to the Bonds.
As part of the settlement, the Lorences agreed to adhere to the Fair Housing Act, to attend a fair housing education class, and to instruct their employees on fair housing rules barring housing discrimination.
Since 1993, HUD has received nearly 44,000 fair housing complaints and has helped obtain over $150 million in settlements and court judgments in housing discrimination cases. In this year alone, HUD has also obtained commitments from lenders to make over $3 billion in home mortgage loans to minorities and low-income families to settle accusations of housing discrimination.
Cuomo said HUD will be able to continue moving aggressively against housing discrimination as the result of an increase in the budget of its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity from $30 million in the 1998 fiscal year to $40 million in the year that began Oct. 1.
The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on the basis of family status, race, color, religion, sex, disability and national origin. The Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.
The Act allows residential communities designed for older people to exclude children, but only if the communities meet certain requirements. The Linden Avenue Mobile Home
Content Archived: January 20, 2009