Spokane apartment complexes to pay $75,000 for denying housing to families with children

Two Spokane, Washington apartment complexes that allegedly refused to rent units to families with children will pay more than $75,000 in damages and fines to settle a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice.

Under the agreement, filed March 6, 1996 in U.S. District Court in Spokane, the owners and managers of Cedar Springs Estates and Cedar Creek Village will pay up to $50,000 to the families that were wrongfully turned away; up to $21,100 to the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance, a local fair housing group that referred the case to the government; and $5,000 in civil penalties to the government. In a lawsuit, filed together with the agreement, the Justice Department alleged that owners and operators of the apartment buildings including Cedar Property Management violated the federal Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to families with children. The Justice Department alleged that the complexes, totaling more than 500 units, would only allow families with children to rent units on the first floor, resulting in families being turned away.

"Housing providers should realize that the law protects families, and we will enforce that law," said James P. Connelly, U.S. Attorney in Spokane. "By resolving this matter, Cedar Property Management has now set an example for all housing providers in this community to follow."

Connelly said the Justice Department became aware of the discrimination at all the complexes after receiving a complaint from the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance. The housing group had conducted several "tests" at the complexes to see if they were complying with federal law. In these cases, the housing group sent couples with children as well as couples without children to rent housing. By comparing the experiences of the two "test" families, investigators were able to determine that they were treated differently.

"We are pleased this company has taken responsibility for its actions and will take steps to compensate those harmed by its policies," added Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick.