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The Justice Department announced today that Brisben Chimney Hills Limited Partnership and JRK Residential America LLC, the owners and the former manager of the Reserve apartment complex in Lenexa, Kansas, together with their named partner and agents, have agreed to pay $170,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The lawsuit alleged that defendants instituted policies at the Reserve and at other properties in Kansas and Missouri that discriminated against families with children. The lawsuit also alleged that a family was forced to leave the Reserve after they complained to management about the overly-restrictive policies.
Under the proposed consent decree, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court of Kansas, the defendants will pay $60,000 to the family that initiated the original complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $100,000 into a victim fund to compensate other aggrieved families and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. In addition, the proposed consent decree prohibits the defendants from discriminating in the future against families with children and requires the defendants to receive training on the requirements of the FHA.
“For over twenty-five years, the Fair Housing Act has prohibited housing providers from discriminating against families with children,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “Many parents are already struggling to find affordable housing for their families, and they should not also have to face discrimination because they have children.”
“Kansas families with children deserve the right to live where they choose and to be free from housing discrimination,” said U.S. Attorney Barry R. Grissom of the District of Kansas.
The lawsuit, also filed today, arose from a complaint filed with HUD by a family that was living at the Reserve apartments. The owners and operators of the Reserve instituted a policy that discriminated against families with children because it unreasonably restricted the activities of children, including a policy that required that anyone under the age of 16 be physically accompanied by an adult at all times. After the family complained about the policy, their lease was not renewed and they were forced to leave the Reserve. After HUD investigated the complaint, it issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department. The United States’ complaint alleges that the defendants violated the family’s rights, that the restrictive policies discriminated against other families with children and that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination or denied rights protected by the FHA to a group of persons.
“Overly restrictive housing policies for families with children are illegal, and prevent them from fully enjoying the place they call home,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with the Department of Justice to take action against property owners and landlords whose policies violate the Fair Housing Act.”
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing or www.hud.gov/fairhousing.