FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2000
TDD (202) 514-1888
FARGO APARTMENT OWNERS AND MANAGERS TO PAY $15 THOUSAND
TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The former owners and managers of a downtown Fargo, North Dakota apartment complex will pay $15,000 to settle allegations that they discriminated against families with children, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement, filed in the U.S. District Court in Fargo, resolves a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in 1999, charging the owners and managers of the Billmeyer Apartments discriminated against families with children. The suit stemmed from a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a married couple. The couple alleged that the owners and managers violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against them after the husband's son moved in with the couple. HUD investigated the complaint and referred the matter to the Justice Department for litigation after efforts to resolve the matter through conciliation proved unsuccessful. "It has been over 30 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed and 12 years since discrimination against families with children under 18 was outlawed, yet discrimination against families with children continues to be a very real problem in North Dakota and other parts of the country," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "This agreement sends a clear message that we will take aggressive action against those who deny housing to families with children." The complaint alleges that William Brandt, Richard Jordahl, and Powers Properties, who owned the Billmeyer Apartments, located at 37 7th Street North, Fargo, as well as Velva Peterson, Jesse Craig, Terrace Management Company, and NCM Properties, Inc., who managed the complex, discriminated against a married couple after the husband's six-year-old son moved in with them. It asserts that the defendants repeatedly told the family that no children were allowed at the Billmeyer Apartments and that the child would have to leave, prohibited the child from playing in common areas of the complex, raised the family's rent due to the presence of the child, and otherwise treated the family less favorably than other tenants because they had a child living with them. In addition to the $15,000 penalty, the settlement prohibits the owners and managers from engaging in discriminatory acts in the future and requires them to complete an educational program concerning fair housing law and to take other steps to prevent discrimination. The settlement must still be approved by the court.