Housing discrimination case in Mandan leads to $100K settlement

The developer denies discrimination and liability but agreed to settle.

High Plains Fair Housing
The High Plains Fair Housing Center in Grand Forks works to end housing discrimination.
Forum News Service

MANDAN — A family forced from its home due to the birth of another child sued the townhome owner for unlawful housing discrimination. With assistance from a Grand Forks nonprofit, the family was awarded $100,000 in a conciliation agreement issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Dickinson-based Affordable Housing Developers Inc. denied the discrimination but agreed to settle. Other conditions stipulate Affordable Housing Developers must attend fair housing training and distribute Fair Housing Act information to tenants, according to a release issued by the nonprofit.

High Plains Fair Housing Center became involved after the Mandan mother was given a notice of non-renewal in March 2021 stating she must vacate the premises within 30 days due to violation of North Dakota housing occupancy law that limits occupancy to 1.5 persons per bedroom, according to court documents.

The family had been living in the unit since May 2017 so the mother could complete the nursing program she was enrolled in. At that time, she had three children and her lease did not prescribe numerical occupancy limits, according to the lawsuit. She paid her rent and completed the necessary paperwork when her employment changed and when her younger two children were born.

Affordable Housing Developers cited its federal and state funding from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency as the reason for the non-renewal, according to court documents.


High Plains Fair Housing Center contacted the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency about the occupancy limit and learned that agency neither imposed nor required such a limitation, the lawsuit states. In fact, the Trails West Townhomes would fall under a HUD occupancy description of two individuals per bedroom.

Mediation efforts failed, so the mother eventually quit her job in Bismarck and relocated her family to Fargo to avoid homelessness.

The settlement will provide compensatory damages for the loss of housing and personal property, invasion of privacy, emotional distress and civil rights violation suffered by the mother, when Affordable Housing Developers acted with reckless disregard of federally protected fair housing rights, according to the lawsuit. The settlement also includes compensation for the work of the High Plains Fair Housing Center.

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. In 2020, Danielle recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms as well as writes occasional news and history stories.
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