HUD publishes proposed rule which would allow lenders to self-test and keep results secret

In April, the Kentucky Fair Housing Council settled a family status advertising case against the publisher of a telephone directory in southern Indiana. Ameritech, the company that published the New Albany-Jeffersonville telephone directory, agreed to pay $25,000 to the Fair Housing Council to settle claims that they had run an ad in the yellow pages that discriminated against families with children.

The ad, placed by the owners of Carolyn Apartments in Clarksville, has appeared in the yellow pages every year since the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 was passed barring family status discrimination. The law took effect in 1989.

The Fair Housing Council discovered the ad, which read "One Bedroom, All Adults," in March 1996. The Council also discovered that a large sign in front of the apartment complex also marked the complex as "All Adult." The Fair Housing Council tried to run tests for family status discrimination, but there were no vacancies at Carolyn Apartments. Attorney Kevin Kijewski wanted to ensure that the complex was not for seniors only housing. Several "drop-in" tests conducted by the Council produced evidence that Carolyn Apartments was not a seniors-only complex. No children were seen at the complex during any of these tests.

Complex paints over "All Adult" sign after lawsuit is filed
The Fair Housing Council took photos of the sign in front of the complex and obtained copies of all the telephone directories dating back to 1988. They then filed suit in federal court in southern Indiana against Ameritech and the owners of Carolyn Apartments. Dwight Cosby, a cooperating attorney in southern Indiana, assisted the Council in the case. Soon after the case was filed, the owners of Caroyln Apartments painted over the words "All Adult" on the sign in front of the complex.

Ohio's Fair Housing Contact Services settled a similar advertising case againstAmeritech in 1996. They received an $8,000 cash settlement and $5,000 free advertising in Ameritech's telephone directory. Lynn Clark, the executive director of Fair Housing Contact Services, said that she met with representatives from Ameritech and felt as though they were genuinely concerned about avoiding violations of the Fair Housing Act in their telephone directories. She went on to say that Ameritech had invited her to participate in the training of some of its advertising staff and that she believes fair housing training will be a continuing part ofAmeritech's training process for its advertising staff. "This looks like the beginning of a good relationship with one of the Midwest's largest telephone directory publishers," Clark said.

The Fair Housing Council's executive director, Galen Martin, said, "The settlement with Ameritech is another good example of our enforcement efforts in the Louisville metropolitan area. We believe that Ameritech and the apartment owners did the correct thing in settling this case." He said that the Council plans to use the money from the settlement to continue the Council's enforcement efforts in southern Indiana. The settlement with Ameritech was the second southern Indiana settlement obtained by the Fair Housing Council this year.