Four Latino couples will get another chance to show that the Virginia mobile home park where they lived imposed a discriminatory policy requiring evidence of citizenship to renew leases in violation of fair housing law.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote Wednesday, reinstated the case to allow the couples to show the requirement to prove legal status in order to renew a lease disproportionately ousts Latinos compared to non-Latinos.
The mobile home park in Fairfax required the couples, who lived there with a total of 10 children, to produce either original social security cards, passports or a US visa and original arrival/departure form.
The men, who held the leases, produced the required documents but the women, who were not named on the leases, could not. The park owner said they all would be evicted and there would be a charge of $100 for each month they failed to vacate the Waples Mobile Home Park.
The park originally enforced the documents requirement only on the four couples but in 2015 began enforcing the policy on all adult tenants.
The women had valid IRS-issued taxpayer identify numbers, but they were not legal residents, so the Waples park would not accept the tax ID, according to the court.
After filing of eviction notices, one couple had moved out but the other three remained and all joined in a lawsuit in 2016 alleging violation of the Fair Housing Act.
During investigation of the claims, the couples showed that the police adversely affects the undocumented immigrant population and will have a significant disproportionate impact on the Latino population. The statistics indicated nearly 65 percent of the undocumented population in Virginia is Latino and they are 10 times more likely than others to be hurt by the policy.
The trial judge, however, granted the mobile home park’s move to dismiss the lawsuit saying the couples had not shown the rules caused disparate treatment of the Latino residents.
The appeals court held the couples provided sufficient evidence to show the policy disparately impacted Latinos in violation of the FHA. The majority took issue with the judge for saying the women could not satisfy a claim of discrimination because or race, because they were in the country illegally.
“The district court’s view threatens to eviscerate disparate-impact claims altogether,” the majority held.
The case was sent back to the trial court to allow the discrimination claims to proceed.
Case: Giron de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park, No. 17-1723