Lawsuit filed against Ann Arbor landlord over refusal of housing voucher
An Ann Arbor landlord is being sued for allegedly not accepting housing vouchers from the city’s housing commission.
The Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School filed the lawsuit against the Wilson White Company this week.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Megan Morse, a disabled woman who says she needed to rent an apartment close to the University of Michigan hospital. Morse is a participant in studies to develop treatments for epilepsy.
“(A representative of the Wilson White company) told her over the phone that this was their policy not to accept housing choice vouchers,” said Rebecca Lowy, a spokeswoman for the U-M's Civil Rights Litigation Initiative. “They also said the same thing to a tester from the Fair Housing Center of Michigan, which has documents recording that conversation.”
Lowy said an Ann Arbor ordinance requires landlords to accept housing vouchers. The ordinance says landlords can not discriminate against potential tenants based on the source of their income. Housing choice vouchers from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission are paid directly to landlords.
The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction against the Wilson White Company. Lowy said this is the first lawsuit of its kind in Michigan.
“Our understanding is that no other lawsuit about any kind of source of income discrimination — on the basis of housing choice voucher — has been brought in the state of Michigan anywhere else,” said Lowy.
She said other cities in Michigan and in other parts of the country have ordinances on the books similar to Ann Arbor’s.
The Wilson White Company did not respond to Michigan Radio’s request for comment on the lawsuit.