Kentucky Fair Housing Council complaints against the Courier & Press newspaper of Evansville, Indiana and the E.W. Scripps Company have resulted in a $20,000 settlement. The agreement resulted from a conciliation process with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. The settlement includes payment to the Fair Housing Council for frustration of mission damages and for fair housing training for the newspapers advertising staff. The settlement also requires the respondents to contact the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky to learn about their processes for preventing the publication of discriminatory real estate advertisements.
The Fair Housing Council found several ads in the classified section of the Courier & Press that used language to state a preference for adult home seekers instead of families with children. Terms like "quiet adult [mobile home] park," "adult-only park," "adult living luxury apartments," "not desirable for children," "adult living 50+," and "mature citizen discount 45+" all ran in ads in the Courier & Press and on the web site http://ads.evansville.net between June and November 2001. Most of the ads ran after the Council filed its first complaint in July 2001 and had begun corresponding with the newspapers attorney about the ads.
Assistant Director Tony Baize discovered the first discriminatory ads in the Courier & Press during an investigation into another southern Indiana case. The Council performed telephone tests on the ad featuring "quiet adult park" and confirmed that the seller of a mobile home would not sell to a family with children. After the test, the seller called the Courier & Press and changed the ad to read "quiet adult only park." After the Council filed its complaint, eight more ads that contained discriminatory language were published in the newspaper. The Council amended its complaints with HUD and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission to include the additional advertisements.
Fair Housing Council Executive Director Galen Martin remarked, "Civil rights groups like ours must file complaints and get settlements that make an impact in the communities in which we serve. This settlement makes an impact." Council Board Member Steve Porter, Staff Attorney Alex Rose, Martin, and Baize negotiated the settlement with representatives of the respondents. Stephen Tilden, the Indiana Civil Rights Commission Alternative Disputes Resolution Director, served as the mediator at the conference. Real Estate Division Supervising Attorney Martha Kenley represented the Indiana Civil Rights Commission in the negotiations.
FHC v. Evansville Courier Company
ICRC Docket No. Hofs01080478
HUD Case No. 05-01-1086-8 (filed July 2001)
C. Alex E. Rose, Attorney for Complainants