Eight companies providing housing in five Washington counties stop discriminating as a result of AGO enforcement action
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today the completion of a sweep to crack down on illegal housing discrimination against veterans with disabilities, resulting in enforcement action against eight companies across the state.
As part of the enforcement action, the eight companies will stop discriminating.
“Veterans are protected from discrimination by Washington law,” Ferguson said. “No veteran should be denied a roof over their head based on how they plan to pay their rent.”
The Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit investigation, which began in 2016, uncovered property management companies around the state that were improperly rejecting Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. Eight of those companies entered into agreements with the Attorney General’s Office to end their discrimination and consider VASH vouchers as payment.
VASH is a joint program between the U.S. departments of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). The program offers housing vouchers combined with VA support services for veterans who have a disability, including a serious mental illness, a history of substance abuse disorder or a physical disability.
The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits housing practices that discriminate on the basis of disability or veteran status. In addition, the Legislature is currently considering changing state law to prohibit property managers from discriminating against any potential tenant based on their source of income, including whether they receive housing vouchers or subsidies.
The eight housing providers entering into the agreement provide housing in five Washington counties, including Walla Walla, Spokane, King, Thurston and Benton.
Attorney General Ferguson’s sweep revealed two additional corporate housing providers — Utah-based Apartment Management Consultants LLC and Colorado-based Mission Rock Residential LLC — that also refused to accept VASH vouchers from veterans. To date, however, these two companies have refused to enter into an agreement with the Attorney General’s Office to end their discriminatory practice.
Both companies refused to accept the VASH voucher, despite knowing that the voucher assisted a veteran with a disability in paying his or her rent. They asked no additional questions about whether the prospective tenant otherwise met the properties’ rental criteria.
Apartment Management Consultants manages 24 residential rental properties in 10 cities in Washington, including the HighGrove and Wildreed apartments in Everett. Among Mission Rock’s 13 properties in nine Washington cities are the Lakeside Landing Apartments in Tacoma and Sierra Sun in Puyallup.
Ferguson has informed both corporations that he will bring an enforcement action against them alleging violations of the Washington Law Against Discrimination if HB 2578, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, does not pass this session. HB 2578 prohibits landlords from refusing to rent property to a tenant based on their source of income, including VASH vouchers and other forms of subsidy. The bill, which Attorney General Ferguson supported, recently passed the House with bipartisan support, 61-37, and sits in the Senate Rules Committee.
A nearly identical bill, Senate Bill 5407, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, passed the Senate on Feb. 9 with bipartisan support.
The eight companies who changed their conduct are:
Assistant Attorney General Chalia Stallings-Ala’ilima handled these cases.
The Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit works to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. It is named for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; [email protected]