|HUD No. 14-125
October 8, 2014
HUD TAKES ACTION IN CALIFORNIA AND KANSAS CASES WHERE HOSTILE APARTMENT RULES AGAINST CHILDREN INCLUDED NO PLAYING OUTSIDE
Children allegedly forced to clean toilet when found playing outside; families threatened with eviction
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a discrimination settlement agreement with a Napa Valley apartment owner and charged the owners of a Lenexa, Kansas, apartment complex with discrimination as a result of management at the two sites allegedly putting overly restrictive rules into place to control the free movement of children. Allegations include management placing restrictions on children playing outside, and in one case forcing children to clean the manager's office toilet when the youths were found outside unaccompanied by an adult.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This includes setting rules that discriminate against families with children.
"Placing special rules on families with children unfairly singles them out and creates a hostile living environment that is authoritarian and unequal," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families with children to enjoy their homes the same way as other households."
In Napa Valley, California, seven affected families, and the nonprofit group Fair Housing of Napa Valley, filed complaints with HUD alleging that the manager at the River Park Manor Apartments cursed at children when he found them playing outside unaccompanied, and then ordered the children to his office and instructed them to sit on the floor. HUD's charge further alleges that once at the office, the manager required the children to clean the office toilet and pick up trash around the complex, and threatened them by telling them that their families may be evicted if they did not comply with his instructions. The apartments also had a rule prohibiting children from using the swimming pool during certain hours.
Under the terms of the agreement, the owners and manager of River Park Manor Apartments will pay Fair Housing of Napa Valley $3,750; waive four months of rent for five of the families (a total monetary value of $19,000); pay two former tenants a total of $7,000; eliminate the rule that limits pool usage by children during the day; and obtain fair housing training for employees.
In a separate case, HUD charged the owners and property managers of The Reserve Apartments in Lenexa, Kansas, with violating the Fair Housing Act when they allegedly instituted a policy that prohibited children under the age of 16 from freely using the common areas of the property.
According to HUD's charge, the property's policies allegedly required children to be supervised by an adult at all times and prohibited youth from playing anywhere on the property except the playground. The rules also allegedly prohibited kids from playing any team sports on the property, and from riding bicycles, skateboards, or scooters on the property. One of the affected families was a single mother who had a 14-year-old son. When she complained that her son was essentially on "lockdown," the management office allegedly refused to renew the family's lease in retaliation. A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear the charge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.
If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your civil rights have been violated you can report it online at www.hud.gov/fairhousing, call 1-800-669-9777 or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
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