WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the property owners, operator, and office manager of a multifamily property in Wichita, Kansas with violating the Fair Housing Act by terminating the lease of a resident who had asked that her grandchild be allowed to live with her.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against families with children, including denying or limiting housing to families because they have children under the age of 18, making discriminatory statements, and imposing rules or policies that discriminate against families with children.
“Grandparents shouldn’t have their housing taken from them simply because they’re guardians of young children,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This charge reinforces HUD’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet their obligation to treat families with children the same as any other resident.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a female resident filed a complaint alleging that the owners of Northridge Apartments, a complex in Wichita consisting of 16 one-bedroom units, terminated her lease after she asked if she could add her granddaughter to her lease. The grandmother had obtained custody of the child shortly before she made the request.
HUD’s charge alleges the property manager told her that her request “may be a problem,” and that the owner “doesn’t want kids on the property.” The charge further alleges that the owners gave notice that they were terminating the lease of another family with a child around the same time.
The case will be heard in federal district court. If it is determined that illegal discrimination has occurred, a judge may award actual and punitive damages, order injunctive or other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, and order that defendants pay the family’s attorney fees.
Any person who believes she or he has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.