FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2020
Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org
Fair Housing Groups Reach Settlement Expanding Housing Opportunities for Thousands of Children
Washington, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced a settlement agreement with Asset Campus Housing, Inc., the largest third-party property management company in the nation for campus living, that will open up access to 140,000 beds across 40 states and 77 cities to families with children. This agreement is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2018 by NFHA, the Lexington Fair Housing Council, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, and Asset Campus Housing tenant Maya Moss.
“This collaborative effort elevated individual voices to create national, systemic advances in housing opportunities for families with children,” said Nancy Haynes, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. “We hope that this result increases awareness that families with children not only have rights to fair and equal housing but also that those rights can and will be asserted to ensure housing choice,” Haynes added.
In July of 2018, after receiving complaints from individuals and conducting a year-long investigation, NFHA and its co-plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Western District of Kentucky, alleging that Asset Campus Housing discriminated against families with children. The company, although marketing itself as student housing, knowingly rented to non-students while enforcing policies that discouraged families with children, even when the parents were students. These practices, according to the plaintiffs, were in clear violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of familial status.
For plaintiff Maya Moss and her daughter, Asset Campus Housing’s policies created an undue economic burden. The company, which owns or manages hundreds of apartment buildings throughout the country, had a policy that no more than one person could reside in each bedroom. Even a mother and two-year-old child could not live in a large one-bedroom apartment under one lease. So, Maya and her daughter had to sign two leases and pay double the rent.
Asset Campus Housing is just one of many student property management companies in the U.S. This industry has experienced significant growth over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2018 alone, the volume of investment in the U.S. student housing market jumped from under $2 billion to $11 billion, according to a report by CBRE. As this industry expands, it’s even more important for companies like Asset Campus Housing to understand and accommodate an increasingly diverse college student demographic.
“This settlement is an important step in advancing fair housing standards throughout Kentucky and nationwide,” said Art Crosby, Executive Director of the Lexington Fair Housing Council. Crosby continued, “It is our hope that other companies in the student housing market will eliminate discriminatory practices and increase accessibility for families with children and other protected groups.”
Policies like the one implemented by Asset Campus Housing unnecessarily add to expenses for students and can cause them to take on higher student loan debt. Almost 45 million borrowers owe $1.56 trillion in student loan debt — an average of roughly $35,000 per student. This compares with an average of $20,000 per student a little over 10 years ago. Finding a decent affordable place to live can be extremely challenging for students. One study found that 14 percent of community college students are homeless.
“The modern college student population is no longer just comprised of 18- to 24-year olds. It’s made up of people from all age groups and backgrounds. Some have spouses and children and others are single parents,” said NFHA President and CEO, Lisa Rice. “Moreover, our country is grappling with an affordable housing crisis. Student housing management companies need to be aware of this and must not implement policies that illegally discriminate against people and make housing inaccessible to vulnerable groups,” Rice added.
NFHA’s work was made possible in part through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
About The National Fair Housing Alliance
Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 220 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.
About The Lexington Fair Housing Council
The Lexington Fair Housing Council is a full-service, nonprofit civil rights agency committed to eradicating discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Council enforces the federal Fair Housing Act, the Kentucky Fair Housing Act, and the local fair housing ordinances (where applicable). The Lexington Fair Housing Council is the only private nonprofit fair housing agency in Kentucky and investigates complaints throughout the Commonwealth.
About The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is a private, non-profit fair housing organization committed to providing comprehensive fair housing services, including education, outreach, research, advocacy and enforcement. The Fair Housing Center is the front door to housing choice, ensuring that everyone in our community has equal opportunity to choose housing that’s right for them.