The U.S. Housing and Urban Development said today it has charged the Want Ads of Boise Inc., the publisher of the Thrifty Nickel, with violating the Fair Housing Act by accepting and publishing housing ads that excluded potential owners and renters because of their familial status.

The charge stems from a September 2003 complaint filed by the Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure inclusive housing for all people throughout Idaho.

Between August and October 2003, the IFHC found the locally published Thrifty Nickel newspaper published housing advertisements that indicated a preference based on familial status that excluded children.

Typical of the illegal ads that ran were the following:

  • Aug. 28, 2003 – “FOR RENT: Small, furnished, 1 bedroom house $500 per month, utilities paid. No children or pets…

  • Aug. 28, Sept. 4, and Sept. 18, 2003 – “GREAT DEAL 2 bedroom condo with a pool Boise Beach area only $550. 2 bedroom mobile home located in a great adult-type park in Mountain Home $295…

  • Sept. 18, 2003 – “TOWNHOUSE in newer subdivision- 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, two car garage air, gas, fireplace, Deadend culdesac. Private, quiet, central to downtown, airport, Micron, BSU. Ideal for the students, couples, empty nesters. …

  • Sept. 18, 2003 – “NEW 2 BEDROOM, single wide trailer, in country between Nampa and Meridian. Single person…

“We are discovering that some newspapers either do not understand or simply are not complying with the Fair Housing Act,” said Carolyn Peoples, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.

This is the second fair-housing complaint HUD investigated against the Thrifty Nickel, a publication with a circulation of 42,000. In 1996, a housing discrimination complaint was filed for publication of a rental advertisement in the Thrifty Nickel specifying “no children.” The complaint was conciliated and closed by HUD in 1998. As part of the conciliation, Thrifty Nickel employees who accepted ads were required to receive training in the advertising requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

A hearing on the current charges will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on Nov. 16 in the Boise area, unless either the complainant or respondent elect to have the case decided by a federal judge in U.S. District Court. An election to go to district court must be made by Sept. 7.

HUD is a federal agency that implements housing policy.

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