SUIT FILED AGAINST MINOT LANDLORD BY FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL AND FORMER MINOT RESIDENT CHARGING DISCRIMINATION

NORTH DAKOTA FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL, INC.
(Serving North Dakota and Eastern South Dakota)

533 Airport Road, Suite C

Telephone 701-221-2530

Bismarck, ND 58504
Toll Free 1-888-265-0907

ND Relay 1-800-366-6889 (Voice)
ND TDD 1-800-927-9275

SD Relay 1-800-642-6410 (Voice)
SD TDD 1-866-273-3323

PRESS RELEASE -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Further Information:   Amy Schauer Nelson - 701/221-2530

(BISMARCK, ND, Oct. 7, 2003) -– The North Dakota Fair Housing Council (NDFHC) and a former Minot resident have filed a federal lawsuit against Earl Allen, a Minot landlord, charging discriminatory housing practices against people with disabilities and due to race, color and national origin.

In 1999, the NDFHC received a complaint of discrimination against Mr. Allen from a then Minot resident alleging discrimination based upon race and disability.  On the basis of the complaint, the NDFHC conducted an investigation of Mr. Allen’s business operations.  The investigation by the NDFHC confirmed the basis for the complaint.  As a result, in 2000, a complaint was filed with the North Dakota Department of Labor’s Division of Human Rights and with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) alleging housing discrimination based upon disability and race.  On October 28, 2002, the North Dakota Department of Labor issued a determination of no reasonable cause.

The lawsuit charges that Mr. Allen instructed agents and employees to discourage or refuse any rental application submitted by Native Americans; applied different lease requirements to rental applications submitted by African Americans; refused to rent a dwelling unit to a person because of his or her disability; failed or refused to allow reasonable accommodations based upon disability; and threatened and harassed former employees with knowledge of his discriminatory housing practices.  The lawsuit also alleges that Mr. Allen made discriminatory statements about people with disabilities, Native Americans and African Americans such as referring to Blacks as “niggers” and “savages”, asking a tenant if she minded that Blacks were living downstairs and remarking that he didn’t want an African American family’s apartment “to turn into a commune like they do down south”.

The federal law that governs housing discrimination is the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which was passed by Congress in 1968 and amended in 1988.  The FHA forbids discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status (presence of children), or disability.  The North Dakota Century Code on Human Rights and state Fair Housing laws forbid similar kinds of discrimination and also gives further protection to individuals on the basis of age (40 and over), and status with respect to marriage and public assistance.

The North Dakota Fair Housing Council is a North Dakota non-profit organization located in Bismarck.  The NDFHC’s mission is to provide support, encouragement, and assistance to those seeking equal access to housing in North Dakota and eastern South Dakota.  The NDFHC also investigates complaints of housing discrimination.  The NDFHC and the individual plaintiff are represented in the lawsuit by Christopher Brancart, a lawyer from Pescadero, California who specializes in fair housing litigation.