ACLU Intervenes After Apartment Complex Discriminates Against Domestic Violence Survivor

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, ACLU national, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Derek Newton, ACLU of Florida, (786) 363-2722; media@aclufl.org

 

ACLU Intervenes After Apartment Complex Discriminates Against Domestic Violence Survivor

Florida Woman Denied Rental After Refusing to Provide Information That Would Jeopardize Family

ATLANTA - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a housing discrimination complaint today against a Florida apartment complex and property management company that refused to rent to a survivor of domestic violence. The complaint was filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Southeast Office.

Hope Nicolas was told she was required to provide the Valencia Forest Apartments rental office in Orlando with her children’s Social Security numbers, an act that could reveal their location to their abuser. Although she offered documentation to prove she had legal custody of the children and that she had been abused, she was denied an apartment.

“It’s unfair that my family and I were forced to choose between being safe and having housing,” said Nicolas. “I should not have to compromise my family’s safety for a basic necessity like shelter.”

Nicolas changed her name and Social Security number after fleeing her abuser but did not change her children’s names because doing so would require her to notify their abusive father. The rental office told Nicolas they needed the children’s Social Security information for auditing purposes, and to confirm she had legal custody of the children to prevent anything “dramatic” from happening.

“Tragically, it’s not uncommon for survivors of domestic violence to be stigmatized as troublesome by landlords who refuse to rent to them,” said Sandra Park, staff attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “This behavior is discriminatory, unnecessary and cruel.”

No law requires rental offices to collect the Social Security numbers of minor children. Disclosing her children’s information and allowing the company to perform a background check could potentially reveal the family’s location through the children’s credit reports.

The ACLU is filing the complaint against the owners of Valencia Village, the owners of the apartment complex and its management company, Concord Management.

More information on this case is available at:
www.aclu.org/womens-rights/hope-v-valencia-village-et-al

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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