The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs has settled a federal fair housing suit against Bernsen Management, a local rental company, said Interfaith in a prepared statement. Interfaith Housing alleged that in one of its buildings, Bernsen Management would only rent to Northwestern University students. Under the settlement, concluded in December 2011, Bernsen Management is prohibited from engaging in discriminatory practices based upon familial status, including the advertising of housing or the restriction of rentals to Northwestern students only, said Interfaith. The Bernsens denied the allegations and the settlement was entered into without an admission of liability.
“With this settlement, the message to Evanston landlords is loud and clear: this town cannot tolerate two private rental markets, one for students and one for families,” says Gail Schechter, Executive Director of the Interfaith Housing Center. “It is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.”
The City of Evanston is working with Interfaith to ensure that landlords who choose to advertise to students understand their obligations under Federal, state, and local fair housing laws, including not discriminating against families with children, said Interfaith. This includes inaugurating workshops and print materials that promote Evanston as an open community.