ICRC Hands Down Two Housing Charges

Indianapolis—The Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) announced today two significant housing discrimination charges brought against Zender Family Limited Partnership in Indianapolis and Pendragon Properties in Bloomington. The ICRC asserts both housing providers violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) through policies and practices against prospective tenants with disabilities.

“State and federal courts have held that policies which have the effect of excluding disproportionate number of protected individuals may run afoul of the Fair Housing Act,” said Joshua Brewster, Deputy Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. “Ensuring equal access to affordable, accessible and integrated housing for people with disabilities is a priority of the ICRC.”

The charge against Zender Family Limited Partnership, which operates numerous downtown Indianapolis apartment buildings, stems from their policy requiring a co-signer on leases for persons who were unemployed. Although being unemployed is not a protected class, the ICRC argued that such a policy has a greater adverse effect on persons with disabilities, who are far more likely to be unemployed.

While Zender continues to deny liability, it agreed to change its rental policy to allow applicants with disabilities to show proof of receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income instead of providing proof of employment.

The charges brought against Pendragon Properties, as well as the designer and architect of a recently constructed apartment complex, resulted from the alleged failure to design and construct an apartment complex in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

The law requires all multi-family dwellings built after March 13, 1991, to be designed and built with various, minimal accessibility features, including certain doorway widths, sidewalk slopes and kitchens and baths useable by people in wheelchairs.

While continuing to deny liability in this matter, Pendragon Properties, working with the other Respondent’s in the charge, agreed to make certain modifications to the property to allow equal access to and use of the apartments by people with disabilities.

“While we were unable to obtain full accessibility of these units in conformity with the Fair Housing Act, due to the prohibitive cost of such alterations, the ICRC was able to compel substantial improvement and ensure that current and prospective tenants with disabilities will enjoy equal access to affordable housing in Bloomington,” Brewster added.

Enacted in 1968, the FHA ensures that Hoosiers, regardless of their race, color, religion, nationality, gender, disability or familial status are afforded equal opportunities in real estate related transactions. For more information about the FHA contact the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at (800) 628-2909 or visit www.in.gov/icrc.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information on the Indiana Civil Rights Commission visit: http://www.in.gov/icrc.