U.S. Department of Justice files disability discrimination lawsuit against Council Bluffs, Iowa, housing authority

Sept. 23, 2005


South Omaha Affordable Housing
Omaha 100

Contact: Jill Fenner

OMAHA—The United States Department of Justice has filed a complaint and request for a jury trial in Federal District Court in Iowa alleging that the Municipal Housing Authority of Council Bluffs has a pattern and practice of violating the Fair Housing Act by rejecting applications for housing based on a person’s mental disabilities.   

The US Department of Justice suit alleges that the Municipal Housing Authority maintained and enforced a policy or practice of requiring prospective tenants who were applying to live in Regal Towers to divulge mental health information on its application form and also make their medical and mental health records available to the Housing Authority as part of the application process.  The Municipal Housing Authority would then reject their applications for housing.  In addition, the Municipal Housing Authority turned down applications for housing from persons with mental disabilities if they refused to comply with this request for a release of their medical records.   

This matter was initially investigated by the Fair Housing Center of Nebraska, a program of Family Housing Advisory Services, Inc.  Complaints were then filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which further investigated the complaints and issued a charge of discrimination.  The case was then referred to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Any persons who believe they were subjected to a denial of housing by the Municipal Housing Authority of Council Bluffs because of a disability can contact the Fair Housing Center at 934-6675 or (800) 669-3247.

Family Housing Advisory Services, Inc. has been helping people secure and maintain decent, safe, and affordable housing and strengthening the community through education, counseling, advocacy, and dispute resolution since 1968.  It serves over 10,000 individuals and families in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa annually from its offices at 2401 Lake Street and 36th & Q Streets in Omaha, and 10 S. 4th Street in Council Bluffs.

Family Housing Advisory Services provides a number of valuable programs to the community, including the Fair Housing Center, Homesearch Assistance for the Homeless, Financial Literacy, and Homebuyer Education.  In addition, through Omaha 100, Inc. and South Omaha Affordable Housing, Family Housing Advisory Services helps individuals and families reach the American dream of home ownership.

For more information, contact Jill Fenner at (800) 669-3247 or (402) 934-6657.