Tacoma, WA families share in $55,000 settlement

The owner of a Tacoma, Washington mobile home park  will pay $55,000 to resolveclaims of family status discrimination under a settlement reached in June by the JusticeDepartment. The settlement resolves lawsuits filed by the Department of Justice andprivate plaintiffs.

The settlement agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma,ends an investigation into whether the South Prairie Creek R.V. Park violated the federalFair Housing Act by discriminating against five families with children. The JusticeDepartment alleged that the owners and managers of the mobile home park treated familieswith minor children differently than they treated residents with no children.

Families with young children kept in less desirable sections of the mobile home park

The families and the Justice Department alleged in their lawsuits that the owner ofthe mobile home park reserved more desirable parts of the park for adults only, limitedwhere children could play, and retaliated against families who complained to cityofficials about the park. Justice Department investigators noted differences between the"adult" and "family" sections of the park in their reports.

The mobile home park owner settled the lawsuits before they could go to trial. Inaddition to compensating the five families and others found to be victims of the allegeddiscrimination, the owner of the park has agreed to take several actions designed toinsure that the Park will not discriminate against any of its residents.

Under the agreement, the owner of the Park will:

  • pay $55,000 in damages and attorney fees to the five families, and a $3,000 civilpenalty to the government;
  • establish a fund of $10,000 to compensate other families the Justice Departmentidentifies as having been discriminated against; and,
  • attend fair housing training by the South Puget Sound Fair Housing Center.

"The Fair Housing Act guarantees families in Washington and elsewhere in thiscountry the right to live in housing of their choice free from discrimination," saidKatrina C. Pflaumer, U.S. Attorney in Seattle. "This action vindicates that right onbehalf of residents and prospective residents who were harmed by the discriminatorypolicies of the South Prairie Creek RV Park."

"Discrimination against families with children is illegal," said Bill LannLee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Parents seeking homes forthemselves and their children should not have to face this kind of treatment."

Oregon woman who tried to sell mobile home to family will share in $27,000 HUDsettlement

An Oregon mobile home park owner and the park's manager agreed to pay $27,000 in Juneto settle housing discrimination charges accusing them of refusing to rent to a couplebecause the couple had a 4-year-old son.

Larry Angell, owner of the Scofield Mobile Home Park near Salem, Oregon, and parkmanager Hazel Dwigans agreed to make the $27,000 payment to settle the discriminationcharges filed by the US Department of Housing and urban Development (HUD). HUD accused thetwo of illegally discriminating against Paul and Margo Gibson and their then 4-year-oldson, Christopher, by refusing to allow the family to live in the park in April 1997.

The refusal forced the Gibson family to cancel their plans to purchase a mobile home inthe park from Lorna Knodel, who was 89 years old at the time of the incident. Knodel wasalso listed as a discrimination victim because of the lost sale, as was Barbara Griffin,her real estate agent.

Under the settlement agreement, Knodel will receive $11,000, the Gibson family will get$8,000, and Griffin will get $3,000 in compensatory damages. HUD will get $5,000 in civilpenalties.

Paul Gibson said he was happy with the settlement: "I wasn't out to win thelottery, I just wanted what was fair. We would have been happy to live in Mr. Angell'strailer park if he had just abided by the law. I hope that other landlords will learn alesson from this case."