BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — A woman who says she was forced to vacate her government-financed Mandan townhome following the birth of her fifth child has now settled the suit.
Shukri Ahmed and High Plains Fair Housing Center filed the suit against Affordable Housing Developers, Inc. in June 2021, after Ahmed says she was forced to vacate Trails West Townhomes following the birth of her fifth child. Ahmed and High Plains Fair Housing Center argued that the decision not to renew Ahmed’s lease was discriminatory. They said the decision violated state and federal law, and that Ahmed was being discriminated against because of her familial status. Affordable Housing Developers responded that Ahmed’s family exceeded their occupancy limits with one adult and five children living in the unit.
As part of the settlement agreement, Affordable Housing Developers will pay $100,000 to Ahmed and High Plains Fair Housing Center, while maintaining the organization did not engage in discriminatory housing practices. The agreement also states that Affordable Housing Developers will implement a revised occupancy policy at its rental properties, and further stipulates that information about fair housing be distributed to tenants, with a fair housing poster to be displayed at each apartment complex it owns or operates.
A news release issued by High Plains Fair Housing Center states that Ahmed “had never been late on rent or incurred a lease violation in the previous 4 years of her tenancy at the property. She was a nurse in the community and paid the full market rental rate. All of the children in the household were under the age of 10 and were not in violation of city code occupancy standards for the 3-bedroom, 1,572 square foot townhome.”
The news release also stated that when the only other available housing Ahmed could find required her to make more money, she accepted a job as a traveling nurse in Fargo to earn the necessary income. However, the new landlord required her to provide two to three months worth of paystubs before moving in — and she only had 30 days to vacate her unit at Trails West Townhomes. Facing homelessness, the release notes that Ahmed “had no choice but to uproot her family and move out of the area, causing immeasurable damages to her and her young children.”
The executive director for High Plains Fair Housing Center, Michelle Rydz, noted in the news release that “strict and numerical occupancy standards applied to families with children under the age of 18 exclude large families from available housing. Evicting, non-renewing, or excluding families due to the birth of a child means those families lose access to their communities, jobs, good schools, and places of worship, and is against the law.”
KX News reached out to the executive director of Affordable Housing Developers for comment. We have not yet heard back.