HUD: Kids Forced to Clean Toilets for Playing Outside
HUD recently announced action in two fair housing cases against communities for allegedly enforcing overly restrictive rules on children playing outside. In one case, HUD claimed that children were forced to clean the manager’s office toilet when they were found outside unaccompanied by an adult.
The owner of a California community agreed to a $30,000 settlement to resolve HUD complaints filed by seven families and a fair housing organization that the manager cursed at children when he found them playing outside unaccompanied, and then ordered them into his office and to sit on the floor. Once at the office, the manager allegedly required the children to clean the office toilet and pick up trash around the complex, and threatened them by telling them that their families may be evicted if they didn’t comply with his instructions. Among other things, the settlement requires the community to pay $3,750 to the fair housing organization, waive rent for five families (totaling $19,000), and to pay two former tenants a total of $7,000.
In a separate case, HUD charged the owners and property managers of a Kansas community for allegedly adopting policies prohibiting children under the age of 16 from freely using the common areas of the property. According to HUD’s charge, the policies required children to be supervised by an adult at all times and prohibited youth from playing anywhere on the property except the playground. The rules also allegedly prohibited kids from playing any team sports on the property, and from riding bicycles, skateboards, or scooters on the property. HUD claimed that when a mother complained that her 14-year-old son was essentially on “lockdown,” the management office refused to renew the family’s lease in retaliation. The case remains pending an administrative hearing unless a party elects to take it to federal court.
“Placing special rules on families with children unfairly singles them out and creates a hostile living environment that is authoritarian and unequal,” Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families with children to enjoy their homes the same way as other households.”