BNI sues apartments for bias against children

April 04, 2001
A Baltimore City mother of a 5-year-old child and a local fair housing organization filed suit in Federal District Court of Maryland against Park Raven Apartments Limited Partnership for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Walida Howard of Baltimore City and Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI), a private, nonprofit fair housing organization, joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit claiming discrimination on the basis of familial status.
      Ms. Howard telephoned Park Raven Apartments in February 2001, requesting information on two-bedroom apartments. The leasing agent asked if Ms. Howard had children and what was the child's age. After learning that Ms. Howard had a 5 year old son, the agent stated that one unit was available on the first floor.
      Further, the agent stated that the practice was to place all families with children on the first floor. The leasing manager confirmed this information with Ms. Howard. Ms. Howard informed the employees that the practice of steering families to certain floors was illegal, but the staff stood by their policy.
      BNI's investigation confirmed this Park Raven Apartments policy of assigning families to certain floors or buildings.