Idaho Fair Housing Forum

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Idaho Fair Housing Cases

This section is provided as a courtesy to those seeking information on past cases filed and/or settled in Idaho. The list will be updated as cases are provided; the information below was provided by the Intermountain Fair  Housing Council as context for the 2016 Assessment of Fair Housing. Cases are organized by the protected class issues at the heart of the complaint.

United States v. Stealth Investments, LLC, et al. (Disability). This Idaho Falls case was brought after telephone testing found denial of service animals to meet a reasonable accommodation request. The 2008 consent decree required the defendant to pay $24,500 to compensate victims of discrimination at the apartment complex, establish a $12,500 victim fund, pay a $25,000 civil penalty to the United States, follow non-discriminatory procedures, and undergo fair housing training.

United States v. Hallmark Homes, et al (Disability). This case involved the failure of an apartment complex in Coeur d’Alene to meet the design and construction requirements of the FHA. Specifically, the complaint alleged that: (1) the public use and common use portions were not readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, (2) doorways to the bedrooms and the master bathrooms within the ground floor units were not sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs, and (3) the ground floor units had the following deficiencies of adaptive design.[1] The 2006 consent decree ordered defendants to pay $115,000 to retrofit the areas.

United States v. Riverwalk Condominiums, LLC (Disability). This case was another design and construction lawsuit in Boise. Under the consent decree, the defendant paid $13,500 to an individual with a disability who inquired about housing at the complex. The defendants were also required to retrofit the complex to make it more accessible and pay $5,000 in civil penalties.

United States v. S-Sixteen Limited Partnership (Disability). This case also involved design and construction violations in an apartment complex in Boise. The 2005 consent order required defendants to retrofit the common use areas of the complex and 76 ground-floor apartments, pay $2,000 in damages, and to establish a fund of $40,000 to compensate victims of the defendants’ discriminatory practices. Defendants are also required to inform regulatory agencies of future development and design work in which they become involved and obtain statements that design plans comply with the FHA; have all supervisory employees and agents participate in fair housing training and certify that they have read the order; post signs describing their policy of nondiscrimination in housing; and meet reporting and record-keeping obligations.

United States v. Pacific Northwest Electric, Inc., et al (Disability). This case is a design and construction violation of five Boise apartment complexes. The 2003 consent decree required defendants to retrofit the complexes by removing steps; reconfiguring kitchens and bathrooms to provide added maneuvering space; widening doorways; leveling sidewalks; and adding accessible parking and curb ramps at an estimated cost of approximately $300,000. In addition, the defendants were required to pay damages of $34,000.

United States v. Thomas Development Co., et al (Disability). This design and construction case involved 17 apartment complexes located throughout Southern Idaho in the cities of Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Shelly, Rexburg, Caldwell, Rigby, Lewiston, and Jerome. The complaint also alleged that some of the defendants retaliated against a tenant family at one of the complexes by attempting to evict the family after one of the family members requested a reasonable accommodation for their disability. The 2005 consent decree required injunctive relief and monetary payments totaling $125,000.

United States v. City of Payette, Idaho (Disability). This case involved denial of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a group residence to house and counsel persons recovering from alcohol and drug dependency in Payette. The Payette Planning and Zoning Commission denied Ms. Keith’s application for a CUP. At the public hearings to consider the request, area residents made numerous comments indicating opposition to the proposed group home based on the fact that the prospective residents of the home would be persons with disabilities. The city claimed that the group home was a “commercial” entity that didn’t belong in a residential neighborhood, although the city had previously allowed other commercial businesses to open in residential neighborhoods. The 2003 consent decree required that the city allow the group home to open at its originally requested location; comply with the provisions of the FHA; notify the United States of any applications for permits and zoning requests relating to group homes; and train city employees and officials on the requirements of the FHA. The defendant also paid $15,000 to the owner/operators of the facility, and a civil penalty of $5,000 to the United States.

United States v. Taigen & Sons, Inc. (Disability). This design and construction complaint occurred in Post Falls. The court ordered retrofits to be made in one year and $58,000 paid to compensate aggrieved individuals, including residents who experienced difficulties living at the complex and persons who were unable to live there, due to its non-compliance.

Garcia v. Brockway (Disability). This case involved a physically disabled tenant of an apartment complex in Boise. The tenant filed a complaint because the apartment complex lacked curb cuts from the parking lot to the sidewalk, didn’t have a ramp to the front entrance door, and the doorways were too narrow to allow clear passage of his wheelchair. In addition, plaintiff sued the original builder and architect.

The defendants argued that because they no longer owned the building (which they sold in 1994), their liability was time-barred by the statute of limitations in the FHA. The plaintiff countered, arguing that the failure to remodel the apartments constituted a continuing violation and that the statute of limitations takes effect upon discovery of the alleged violations and the failure to make modifications constituted new violations.

The court ruled that the continuing accessibility issues were an effect of a prior discriminatory act but not a continuing violation. The original developer was not found to be liable for refusal to make modifications while current management company was found at fault. Claims against the current owners and management were settled out of court.

United States v. Canal Street Apartments, et al (Disability). This case involved design and construction violations at an apartment complex in Boise. In 2002, defendants were required to retrofit the ground floor units and public and common areas to make them accessible to persons with disabilities; submit to periodic inspections and record-keeping; and pay $3,300 in monetary damages, $5,000 to the Accessibility Improvement Program (AIP) of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to promote handicap accessible housing construction and fair housing in the City of Boise and Ada County area, and a $6,500 civil penalty.

The five-year consent order also required the defendants notify HUD if they again design or construct multifamily dwellings and provide a written statement from any architect involved with the project that the plans include design specifications that comply with the requirements of FHA Accessibility Guidelines.

United States v. Allan Horsley and Horsley Construction (Disability). This case involved design and construction violations at an apartment complex in Pocatello. In 2002, defendants were required to pay $10,000 to compensate an individual using a wheelchair who sought to live at the apartment complex and was unable to do so; $4,000 to IFHC; $14,000 to compensate additional victims of discrimination; $10,000 to increase the availability of accessible housing in Idaho for people with disabilities; $4,000 to the United States in civil penalties; and build 16 units of accessible housing in Pocatello, Idaho.

United States v. Madsen (Disability). This case involved discrimination based on mental illness and disability of a potential buyer (adult son of the applicant) of a mobile home in a park in Weiser, Idaho. The owners of the park rejected the plaintiff’s application upon learning that he had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic depression, or a mental condition or illness.

The consent order required a payment of $30,000, implementation of nondiscriminatory policies, informing all residents and applicants of these policies and of their rights under the FHA and Idaho state law, and attendance at fair housing training.

United States v. Vanderpool, et al (Disability). This is a design and construction case in Caldwell. The defendants agreed to settle the lawsuit by retrofitting an 18-unit apartment complex to make it accessible to persons with disabilities and by paying up to $48,000 in damages and penalties. The defendants also agreed to modify common areas and individual apartment units within one year to make them accessible to persons with disabilities; pay up to $30,000 to compensate persons harmed by the lack of accessible features, $3,000 in damages, $5,000 to a nonprofit organization to increase accessible housing for persons with disabilities in Idaho, $5,000 to the United States in civil penalties, and $5000 to the current owner of the complex to compensate her for the lost rent and inconvenience resulting from the modifications.

United States v. Milton (Familial Status). This case involved discrimination based on familial status. In January, 2008, a father and his two children were told they could not rent an upstairs apartment in Idaho Falls due to liability issues with children living upstairs. In April 2009 a consent decree required the defendants to pay $600 to the plaintiff and comply with standard injunctive provisions including: refraining from committing future fair housing violations; posting an “Equal Housing Opportunity” poster in their rental units; and acknowledging that they committed a fair housing violation after attending training which discussed discrimination on the basis of familial status.

United States v. Blue Meadows Apartments, et al (Familial Status). In July 1995, a Boise apartment complex stated, adopted, and enforced a policy that imposed a limitation on the use of facilities by persons under the age of 18 years. Defendants incorporated these rules into an addendum to the lease that tenants were required to sign. The 2002 consent decree required defendants to delete the current restriction on persons under 17 from using the pool unless accompanied by a parent; limit any future age restrictions governing unaccompanied children using the pool to those under age 13; and refrain from instituting any other rules that restrict the use of common areas at by persons under 18, except those that apply to all persons, regardless of age. Defendants were also required to pay one of the plaintiffs $1,200 in damages.

United States v. Cherrywood & Associates, LP, et al (Familial Status). In this case, a pregnant woman inquired about the availability of two-bedroom apartments at an apartment complex in Idaho Falls for herself, her husband, the couple’s two-year old son, one-year old daughter, and their unborn child. The applicant was told she was ineligible for a two-bedroom unit because the two young children were of different genders and management policy also precluded children of different genders from sharing bedrooms. The consent decree required defendants to pay the family $6,250 in damages, modify their occupancy policy to be non-discriminatory, and comply with FHA regulations.

United States v. Hall, et al. (Gender). This case involved a response to a newspaper advertisement offering a property for rent in Idaho Falls. A landlord would not rent to an applicant because their definition of “family” meant a “husband, wife, and kids.” The landlord required an adult male to be in the home to take care of the yard. The applicant was a single mother, her children, and a female friend.

The 2005 consent decree required that defendants pay $5,000 to the aggrieved persons, and admit their conduct violated the FHA. The agreement also required the defendants to amend their application materials so that they no longer sought “husband’s employment” and “wife’s employment.” The revised applications may seek “applicant’s employment” and “if appropriate, spouse’s employment.”

Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Janene Cowles, and Richard Chinn vs. Boise Rescue Mission Ministries and Boise Rescue Mission, Inc. (Religion and Sex). This case involved the requirement that homeless persons residing in a shelter participate in Christian religious activities in order to continue to reside in the facility and receive meals of a certain quality. Plaintiffs filed this action against the Rescue Mission alleging the Rescue Mission violated the FHA by engaging in religious and sexual discrimination as prohibited by 42 U.S.C. 3604(a) (otherwise make unavailable a dwelling), 3604(b) (discriminate in terms, conditions, or privileges) and 3617 (interference in exercise or enjoyment of fair housing rights). The Rescue Mission has moved the court for summary judgment on all claims raised by Plaintiffs.

In 2009 the case was dismissed by the court. The court held that the homeless shelter is not a dwelling unit and is not, therefore, subject to the requirements of the FHA.

[1]Adaptive design includes: the entrance doorways are inaccessible in that there is a 3/4 inch, unbeveled threshold at the primary entrance door to each covered unit; the thermostats are mounted too high ( 61 inches above) the finished floor; the bathroom walls lack reinforcements to allow later installation of grab bars; and the bathrooms are not usable by persons with disabilities because the clear floor space at the lavatory in the hall bathroom is not centered at the center line of the basin, and the lavatory is located in a vanity cabinet that is non-removable.

2016 Analysis of Impediments: Disability challenges and opportunities

IMG_5712IHFA and the Department of Commerce hosted a discussion among some of Idaho’s most knowledgable experts on access and disability to inform the 2016 Analysis of Impediments, or AI. Folks from around the state had a chance to weigh in on the persistent barriers to access, opportunities for more inclusive communities and programs, and concrete steps we can all take to make Idaho a better place for all residents.

Big thanks to Jen Garner from BBC Research and Consulting, the contractor for the current AI. The AI serves as both an assessment of conditions and provides a set of guidelines for state and local government, housing providers and community leaders moving forward. Look for a final AI in late 2016.

HUD’s Proposed Rule for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

HUD’s new Proposed Rule for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) is coming to a jurisdiction near you. As in the past, there will be challenges in the implementation of the new rules, not least of which will involve differences among Participating Jurisdictions, or PJs. Below are a few links of interest to PJs in Idaho.

Proposed AFFH Assessment Tools

https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/proposed-tools/

Review

Comment here