Official Wins Settlement in Lawsuit

Maricopa County Supervisor Carole Carpenter has won a $20,000 out-of-court
settlement from an apartment owner who refused to rent to Carpenter because she has a child.

The lawsuit and a consent decree from Daniel Sievert; owner of the 32-unit Bethany Biltmore Apartments at 1350 E. Bethany Home Road; were filed Monday in U.S. District Court in  Phoenix.

Carpenter said she will give the settlement money to the Phoenix Fair Housing Center, a group that fights housing discrimination and represented her in the civil action.

"I've never sued anyone in my life," Carpenter said.  "It was humiliating, and my daughter was there, and it was extremely upsetting.

"I wanted my daughter to see you have to stand up for yourself and follow through," added Carpenter, an attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Carpenter went to the Bethany complex on April 28 with her daughter, Sara, then 9 years old, to look at an apartment advertised on a sign in front of the building.

When the manager, Mary Mills, saw Carpenter's daughter, Mills said: "Who is this? We don't take kids."

Carpenter said she told Mills it is a violation of federal law to refuse to rent to familes with children, and Mills closed the door on her.

On May 4, the Phoenix Fair Housing Center sent one of their undercover investigators posing as a prospective tenant without children to the complex.  The investigator was shown a vacant ground-level apartment.

A few minutes later, Carpenter returned to the complex with her daughter and asked to see a ground-level apartment, and was told none was available.

Carpenter quoted Mills as saying, "I told you when you were here before, we don't take children."

"I couldn't believe they were doing this," Carpenter said. "If I received that kind of treatment with my background in law and politics, I can't imagine what a typical single mother wanting to move into a better school district would have to go through."