On June 4, 2014, the Village of Pinehurst agreed to settle a fair housing discrimination claim brought by developers and residents over the Village’s refusal to allow an affordable housing project to be developed for senior citizens. As part of the settlement, the Village will agree to make the zoning changes necessary for the 56-unit development – Pinehurst Senior Apartments – to be built. In addition, the Village is paying $90,000 to compensate the developers for their losses and for their attorney’s fees.
The complainants were represented by the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax. The case had been filed with the North Carolina Human Relations Commission in December 2013 on behalf of Align Development as well as several individuals who had wanted to live in the apartment complex had it been approved as scheduled in April 2013. The complaint alleged that the Pinehurst Village Council’s actions violated the Federal Fair Housing Act and the North Carolina Fair Housing Act, based on the race and economic status of the occupants of the proposed development.
In a press release announcing the settlement, Lauren Brasil, a Staff Attorney at the Fair Housing Project, noted
We are very pleased that the Pinehurst Village Council has agreed to work with the developers to address the affordable housing needs of low-income seniors in and around Pinehurst.
Jack Holtzman, Senior Staff Attorney at the NC Justice Center, continued by noting
It is important that local governments understand that their decisions regarding affordable housing developments are covered by the state and federal Fair Housing Acts.
The federal Fair Housing Act and the North Carolina State Fair Housing Act both prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. In addition, North Carolina’s law prohibits discrimination based on the fact that a development or proposed development contains affordable housing units for families or individuals with incomes below 80% of the area median income.
Click here to read the full press release.
Click here to read the settlement agreement.