Marin family successfully fights child discrimination

FAIR HOUSING OF MARIN
615 B St.
San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel: 415-457-5025
Fax: 415-457-6382
CONTACT: Nancy Kenyon, Executive Director For immediate release

(SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Nov. 21, 2002) -- On the heels of its recent audit revealing that families in Marin face significant discrimination in housing, this week one such family and Fair Housing of Marin jointly settled a case against a property owner accused of discriminating against families with children at a local apartment complex. The alleged discrimination was not a failure to rent, but overly restrictive rules and regulations imposed on children. According to the terms of the Consent Decree, the names of the family, the property owner and the location of the property are confidential.

The family, residing in one of the owner’s apartment complexes, filed suit challenging policies that unduly restricted children’s access to the playground and common areas of the complex. These policies kept the playground closed virtually all the time except when children were at school and barred children over the age of 10 from using the playground at any time. They also limited the times children could use the pool and prohibited the use of any wheeled toys. The rules meant that children had little opportunity for outside play in the immediate vicinity of their homes, an atmosphere that caused families with children to move out or decide not to move in. The law requires that families with children have full and equal enjoyment of rental property.

“Our children were virtually afraid to go outside because of these restrictions,” noted the family, whose name must remain anonymous due to settlement terms. “We gave the owner and managers every opportunity to understand what a hardship this was on our families – including a petition from 5 families asking for changes and a mediation to discuss a compromise. Their response was negative every time.”

The “family unfriendly” environment at the apartment complex had made this family feel so unwelcome that they moved out while the case was pending. To their credit, they continued to pursue the case in order to improve the situation at the complex for families living there now and in the future.

In addition to a monetary settlement of $70,000 to the family, the housing provider agreed to change their stringent rules. The playground will now be open every day until 6:00 p.m. for the use of children 12 and under, and will feature tables and chairs so that adults can comfortably supervise their preschoolers. Furthermore, the complex will permit children to use wagons, tricycles, toy cars, and other small, wheeled toys on the premises. In addition, the housing provider will have his staff undergo periodic training in fair housing laws, such as that provided by Fair Housing of Marin. 

For further information, contact www.fairhousing.com or www.nationalfairhousing.org.

Others who feel they may be the victims of this type of housing discrimination are encouraged to call Fair Housing of Marin at (415) 457-5025.