IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
AT ROCK ISLAND
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. 00-cv-4086
JOHN STRIETER; GLORIA STRIETER;
and STRIETER CORPORATION,
CONSENT DECREE INTRODUCTION
- The United States has filed a complaint in this action against defendants John Strieter, Gloria Strieter, and the Strieter Corporation, who are the owners of Hillgate Apartments located in East Moline, Illinois. The defendants also managed the Hillgate Apartments at all relevant times in this case. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., by (a) making unavailable or denying a dwelling to Randy and Tara Upton (aggrieved persons under the Fair Housing Act) because of handicap, (b) refusing to consider proposals for, and permit, reasonable modifications, at the disabled applicants' expense, which were necessary to afford the Uptons a full and equal housing opportunity, (c) making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on handicap, and (d) implementing a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of disability, among other ways, by stating and maintaining a policy of "no wheelchairs" at the Hillgate Apartments and limiting the use of motorized scooters and other mobility assistance devices within the apartments. Defendants deny that they violated the Fair Housing Act.
- For the purpose of establishing jurisdiction, the parties stipulate that at all times relevant to the allegations of the United States, defendants are residents of Rock Island, Illinois, and that Hillgate Apartments is located within East Moline, Illinois, both of which cities are located within the Central District of Illinois. The parties further stipulate that the housing units at the Hillgate Apartments are dwellings, and that Randy and Tara Upton claim to be aggrieved persons, within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602. The parties further stipulate that the Uptons' administrative complaint was timely filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), and that the plaintiff's complaint was timely filed with the District Court for the Central District of Illinois pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- Defendant John Strieter is the President of the Strieter Corporation. Defendant Gloria Strieter is the Vice-President of the Strieter Corporation and has been manager of the Hillgate Apartments since approximately July 1998.
- On or about October 7, 1998, Tara Upton, a deaf person, contacted the Strieter Corporation offices by TTY, a text telephone used by deaf individuals, via the Illinois Relay Service. Mrs. Upton inquired into the possibility of renting an apartment for herself and her husband, Randy Upton, and informed Mrs. Strieter that Mr. Upton uses a wheelchair. Mrs. Strieter stated that she needed to check with Mr. Strieter concerning whether they would be able to rent to persons who use wheelchairs.
- Approximately two hours after the initial telephone contact, defendants called Mrs. Upton. Mrs. Upton alleges that the defendants informed her that the defendants were unable to rent to her because their "policy" was "no wheelchairs." The defendants deny that they told Mrs. Upton that they had a no wheelchairs policy. However, Mr. Strieter admits that he informed Mrs. Upton that the apartments were not built to accommodate persons who used wheelchairs.
- The Uptons filed a fair housing complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). During the investigation by HUD, defendant John Strieter set forth in a letter reasons why defendants were "[unable] to rent to wheelchair handicap persons." These reasons include the existence of steps at the rear and front entrances, small size of the bathrooms, narrowness of the doorways, and concern for the wear and tear of carpeting within the apartment units should a wheelchair be used within the units. John Strieter admits that the letter is consistent with what he told Mrs. Upton.
- After an investigation, HUD found that there was reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice had occurred and issued a charge of discrimination. After timely election by the complainants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a), the Department of Justice filed this complaint on behalf of the complainants.
- The United States and defendants agree that in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, their controversy should be resolved through the terms of this Consent Decree. Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, the United States and the defendants have consented to the entry of this Decree. Unless otherwise specified, the terms of this Consent Decree shall apply to defendants, their employees, successor entities (not to include any independent third parties in which defendants do not own any interest), agents, and representatives in their operation of residential rental properties in which defendants have or subsequently acquire any ownership or management interest.
- Defendants John Strieter, Gloria Strieter, and the Strieter Corporation, their agents, employees, successors (not to include any independent third parties in which defendants do not own any interest), and all other persons in active concert or participation with them in the ownership or operation of any residential rental properties in which the defendants presently have or subsequently acquire any ownership or management interest, are permanently enjoined from:
- Denying or refusing to rent to any person because of that person's disability or handicap;
- Refusing to permit, at the expense of the handicapped person, reasonable modifications of any rental premises if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises;
- Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or service, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; and
- Restricting the use of wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, and other reasonable assistive devices by persons with disabilities within any dwelling.
- Within fifteen (15) days of the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendants shall pay $35,000 by certified check or money order to Randy and Tara Upton c/o U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998. The caption and docket number of the case shall be indicated on the certified check or money order.
- Within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendants shall post a sign visible from the steps leading to the main entrance of the Strieter Corporation offices stating that persons with disabilities may make special arrangements to meet with Strieter Corporation management concerning rental apartments, and to inspect available apartment units.
- Defendants shall adopt and implement the following practices with respect to renting apartments to persons with disabilities (including, but not limited to, persons who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices):
- Applications and inquiries from persons with disabilities including, but not limited to, persons who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices, will be processed in the same manner as applications and inquiries from any other applicant;
- Defendants will permit applicants with disabilities including, but not limited to, persons who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices, to decide for themselves whether they wish to apply for the next available unit or be placed on a waiting list for any other unit; similarly, defendants will permit applicants with disabilities who are approved for lease-up to make their own decisions whether or not to accept such unit; defendants shall not attempt to discourage any person with disability from living at or applying to live at defendants' apartments for reasons related to the applicant's disability and/or because of his or her use of a wheelchair or other reasonable assistive device;
- Defendants shall inform persons with disabilities (including, but not limited to, persons who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices) who apply for or inquire about renting an apartment that they may make reasonable modifications to their apartment at their own expense to make it more accessible;
- Defendants shall not restrict persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices from using such devices within any part of the apartments;
- Defendants shall not impose special terms or conditions upon applicants or tenants with disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other reasonable assistive devices, or who request a reasonable accommodation or permission for reasonable modification, such as imposing a fee or extra security deposit above that required of other tenants; however, defendants may charge such tenants for damage to their apartments or for returning such apartments to their original condition to the same extent that other non-disabled tenants are charged for such items.
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Consent Decree, and once every six (6) months thereafter, defendants shall send a marketing letter (Attachment A) on defendants' stationery to the organizations listed in Attachment B, informing such organizations that the Strieter Corporation has a policy of equal housing opportunity and welcomes persons who use wheelchairs or scooters.
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Consent Decree, defendants shall amend their rental application to include the statement, "The Strieter Corporation welcomes persons with disabilities. We allow tenants to make reasonable modifications to units at tenants' expense."
- Within sixty (60) days of the entry of this Consent Decree, defendants shall attend a program of educational training concerning the substantive provisions of federal, state and local fair housing laws, regulations or ordinances, and the defendants' responsibilities under such laws. Defendants have contracted with Randall S. Bultema, d/b/a Property Consulting Group to assume responsibility for managing defendants' residential properties. Accordingly, defendants shall also require such training of Randall Bultema who is responsible on behalf of Property Consulting Group for managing defendants' residential housing units. The training shall be conducted by a representative of one of the organizations listed in Attachment B. All costs of this program shall be borne by the defendants. All persons attending such a program shall have their attendance certified in writing by the person conducting the program.
- The defendants shall, no later than ten (10) days after entry of this Consent Decree, apprise each of their employees, agents, or any other person who have responsibility for the management or rental of residential rental units in which defendants have any ownership or management interest, of such persons' obligations under this Consent Decree and under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.. The defendants shall furnish each such employee, agent, or other person covered by this paragraph with a copy of this Consent Decree. Each employee, agent, or other person covered by this paragraph shall sign a statement in the form of Attachment C acknowledging that he or she has received, read, and understood a copy of this Consent Decree, and declaring that he or she will perform his or her duties in accordance with this Consent Decree and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.. New employees or new agents, who have responsibility for the management or rental of residential rental units in which defendants have any ownership or management interest, shall (a) be apprised of the contents of this Consent Decree and of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., when their employment commences, (b) be provided a copy of this Consent Decree, and (c) execute the statement appended hereto as Attachment C no later than five (5) days following their first day of employment. Such new employees or the principals of such new agents, who have responsibility for the management or rental of residential rental units in which defendants have any ownership or management interest, shall attend a training as described in paragraph 15.
- In order to ensure that all persons are made aware that defendants will rent to applicants without regard to their disability, defendants shall include the statement, "Equal Housing Opportunity" in its advertisements in local print media, including The Rock Island Argus and Dispatch. For advertisements 4 column inches in size or greater, defendants shall include in the advertisement, the insignia provided under 24 C.F.R. Part 200, Subpart M, Appendix (2001) pursuant to 54 Fed. Reg. 3310 (Jan. 23, 1989), Appendix I to Part 109.
- The defendants shall, no later than sixty (60) days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, serve upon counsel for the United States a report explaining their efforts to comply with this Consent Decree. This report and any report required under this Consent Decree shall be sent by first class mail to: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998. This report shall consist of the following:
- Copies of letters sent, pursuant to paragraph 13.
- A list of all advertisements made public in any manner since the entry of this Consent Decree, pursuant to paragraph 17 of this Consent Decree, together with a representative advertisement placed in local media during this initial period; to the extent defendants published advertisements different from the representative advertisement, a copy of all such advertisements shall also be included with the report;
- Copies of the statements signed by any and all employees pursuant to paragraph 16 of this Consent Decree;
- Six (6) months after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, and every six (6) months thereafter for three (3) years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, the defendants shall serve on counsel for the United States a written report explaining their efforts to comply with this Consent Decree. In each report required under this paragraph, the defendants shall:
- Provide a copy of the representative advertisement placed in any media in the preceding six-month period; to the extent defendants published advertisements different from the representative advertisement, a copy of all such advertisements shall also be included with the report;
- Provide copies of all statements, required under paragraph 16, which have been executed by new employees or new agents in the preceding six-month period;
- Notify counsel for the United States of any written complaint, or any complaint reduced to writing, which involves housing discrimination on the basis of disability with respect to any residential rental units in which the defendants presently have or subsequently acquire an ownership or management interest, and which has come to the attention of the defendants or any of their employees, agents or other representatives in the preceding six-month period. Defendants shall include a copy of the complaint and any records of the complaint in the report.
- Notify counsel for the United States of any change in the ownership or management of defendants' residential rental units. Such notification shall include the address and the name of any new owner or manager;
- Notify counsel for the United States of any new ownership or management interest the defendants have acquired or developed in any residential rental dwelling, as defined by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602, during the preceding six-month period. Such notification shall include the name of the development in which the defendants has acquired or developed such interest, the address of such development, and the dates of operation of such establishment. Upon reasonable request, the defendants shall provide to the United States copies of pertinent records or documents; and
- Notify counsel for the United States whether, during the preceding six-month period, the Strieter Corporation has either ceased operating, or has licensed its name to others for the purpose of operating, Hillgate Apartments or any residential dwelling, as defined in the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602. Upon reasonable request, the defendants shall provide to the United States copies of pertinent records or documents.
- This Court shall retain jurisdiction of this case for the purpose of enforcing this Consent Decree. The parties shall endeavor to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of or compliance with this Consent Decree prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. This Consent Decree will expire at the later of (a) three years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, or (b) receipt of the last report required under paragraph 19 by counsel for the United States.
- This case is hereby dismissed with prejudice, subject to the condition that, should defendants fail to implement any provision of this decree, the United States or the complainants may move to reopen this case to enforce performance of any such provision of this Consent Decree.
It is so ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED this date ___________.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
|FOR THE PLAINTIFF:|
|Joan A. Magagna, Chief
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Assistant United States Attorney
Central District of Illinois
211 Fulton Street, Suite 400
Peoria, IL 61602
Tel: (309) 671-7050
Fax: (309) 671-7259
|Timothy J. Moran
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
Tel: (202) 305-1311
Fax: (202) 514-1116
|FOR THE DEFENDANTS:|
|Robert D. Butters, Esq.
Thadford Felton, Esq.
Arnstein & Lehr
120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1200
Chicago, Ill 60606
Counsel for the Defendants
|Strieter Corporation, by John Strieter|
This serves to provide you and your organization with information about housing opportunities at apartments managed by the Strieter Corporation in the Quad-Cities area. We rent apartments in Moline (Fox Chase Apartments) and East Moline (Hillgate Apartments), and townhouses in Milan (Willowood Townhomes), all in convenient locations. Hillgate Apartments are located at 921-945 42nd Ave. and 4129-4130 10th Street, East Moline. Fox Chase Apartments are located at 5705-5729 34th Ave. and 3343 60th Street, Moline. Willowood Townhomes are located at 102 and 106-114 West 17th Ave., Milan. The Strieter Corporation is an equal housing opportunity provider with a policy of renting on a non-discriminatory basis to persons with disabilities. We welcome applicants and tenants with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other assistive devices.
We hope you will keep our apartments and townhouses in mind as you inform your clients of housing opportunities in the Quad-Cities area. We would be pleased to make arrangements to show our available apartments to any person with disability to whom your organization provides services and who may be searching for housing. Persons who are interested in learning more about these apartments should contact the Strieter Corporation.
John Strieter, President
Illinois/Iowa Center for Independent Living
3708 11th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201
ATTN: Liz Sherwin, Executive Director
HOPE Fair Housing Center
2100 Manchester Bldg. B, Suite 1070
Wheaton, IL 60187
ATTN: Bernard Kleina, Executive Director
Tel. (630) 690-6500
I have been given and I have read a copy of the Consent Decree entered in United States v. John Strieter, Gloria Strieter, and the Strieter Corporation, Central District of Illinois, Civil Action No. 00-4086. I understand the terms of that Consent Decree and I further understand that federal law guarantees that no person may be denied housing, on account of his or her disability. With that understanding, I agree that, as a condition of my employment or contract relationship with John Strieter, Gloria Strieter, or the Strieter Corporation with respect to the management or rental of residential housing, neither I nor any other person who serves as my agent in any capacity, shall discriminate in any manner on account of disability in carrying out my employment or contract services.
Home Telephone Number
Document Entered November 2, 2001. > >