FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, JULY 29, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
WITH IDAHO LANDLORDS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal judge today approved the Justice Department's settlement of a lawsuit against the owners of Pioneer Village Mobile Home Park, a 65-space mobile home park in Weiser, Idaho. The consent order, approved today by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise, resolves a lawsuit filed in September 2001 against Victoria and Floyd Madsen alleging that the Madsens violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent a mobile home space to a mother and son, on the basis of the son's disability.
"It has been over thirteen years since housing discrimination against people with disabilities was outlawed, yet people with mental disabilities and their loved ones still suffer exclusion from housing opportunities," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Today's settlement shows that the Justice Department will take aggressive action against those who deny housing to persons with mental disabilities."
The lawsuit alleged that the owners rejected the family's application to rent a space in Pioneer Village because of the son's schizophrenia, and that defendant Victoria Madsen made statements suggesting that she did not want residents with mental disabilities in Pioneer Village. The complaint further alleged that the family was unable to buy the home of their choice, located on Pioneer Village grounds. The Idaho Human Rights Commission joined in the Justice Department's lawsuit in order to enforce the fair housing provisions of the Idaho Human Rights Act.
The consent order permanently enjoins the defendants and their employees and agents from discriminating against disabled tenants or applicants. Victoria and Floyd Madsen will also pay the aggrieved family $30,000. In addition, the consent order provides for civil rights training of the defendants' employees; implementation of measures to raise tenants' and applicants' awareness of their fair housing rights; and monitoring of the defendants' rental practices by the Justice Department and the Idaho Human Rights Commission for a period of three years.
This case began when the family filed a fair housing complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD investigated the case and determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination had occurred, it referred the matter to the Justice Department.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or having children under 18. Persons who believe that they have been victims of unlawful housing discrimination may contact the Department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD) at 1-800-669-9777 or at www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm.