Suit filed against Minot landlord by Fair Housing Council and Minot family charging discrimination

For Further Information: Amy Schauer Nelson

BISMARCK, ND, May 8, 2000 - The North Dakota Fair Housing Council (NDFHC) and a Minot family filed a federal lawsuit on April 26, 2000 against Sera Linke, a Minot mobile home park owner, charging discriminatory housing practices against families with children.

Amy Schauer Nelson, Executive Director of the NDFHC stated, "Ms. Linke has repeatedly violated the rights of families with children to the extent that they cannot peacefully enjoy their homes."

In 1998, the NDFHC received a complaint of discrimination based upon familial status against Ms. Linke. On the basis of the complaint and complaints the NDFHC had received previously, the NDFHC conducted an investigation of Ms. Linke's business operations. Ms. Linke owns the 266 unit Holiday Village Mobile Home Park in Minot.

The investigation by the NDFHC confirmed the basis for the complaints. As a result, complaints were filed in 1999 with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) alleging housing discrimination based upon familial status. HUD conducted its own investigation and issued a charge of discrimination against Ms. Linke on January 4, 2000. On January 27, 2000, Ms. Linke filed a notice of election, demanding that this matter be adjudicated in the district court. Pursuant to that notice, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed an action in case A4-00-017 in U.S. District Court. The NDFHC intervened and filed its own complaint on behalf of the NDFHC and the Minot family on April 26, 2000.

The complaint charges that Ms. Linke denied or refused to negotiate rental housing to families with children, discriminates against families with children in the terms or conditions of housing, makes statements with respect to the rental of housing which indicate a preference based upon familial status, and interferes with the exercise or enjoyment of rights of families with children under the Federal Fair Housing Act.

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 forbids similar kinds of discrimination and also gives further protection to individuals on the basis of age, receipt of public assistance, and marital status.

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 the state of North Dakota. The NDFHC also investigates complaints of housing discrimination.

The NDFHC and the individual plaintiffs are represented in the lawsuit by Christopher Brancart, a lawyer from Pescadero, California who specializes in fair housing litigation.