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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES ARIZONA COUNTY AND MOBILE HOME PARK FOR DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN

 WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice today said it sued a 200-lot mobile home park in Mesa, Ariz., that refused to allow families with children to live there. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, alleges that the Arizona Skies Homeowners Association, Inc. and the county in which it operates, Maricopa County, violated the federal Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against families with children.
 Under the act, housing providers may not exclude families with children unless they qualify for a limited exemption as "housing for older persons." To become exempt, a housing provider, among other things, must provide significant services and facilities specifically designed to meet the needs of older persons.
 In November 1990, Maricopa County granted Arizona Skies senior citizen housing status under a local zoning ordinance and authorized it to restrict residency to persons over 55 years of age. Today's complaint, however, asserts that Arizona Skies lacks sufficient services and facilities to qualify for exemption from the federal law and therefore cannot discriminate against families with children.
 "This case demonstrates our determination to end discrimination against families with children," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights James P. Turner. "Such efforts are particularly important where local zoning ordinances have been used impermissibly to curtail housing opportunities for families with children."
 In September 1993, the state of Arizona filed suit against the same defendants alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act as well as similar provisions of Arizona law which prohibit discrimination on the basis of familial status. That lawsuit is currently pending in Maricopa County Superior Court.
 Today's complaint seeks an order prohibiting future discrimination including any action to enforce the local zoning ordinance in a discriminatory manner, compensatory and punitive damages and civil penalties of up to $50,000 as provided in the law.
 -0- 1/5/94
 /CONTACT: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 202-616-2765/


CO: U.S. Department of Justice; Arizona Skies Homeowners Association,
 Inc. ST: District of Columbia, Arizona IN: SU: EXE


IH-DC -- DC017 -- 9396 01/05/94 14:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 5, 1994
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