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West Michigan Family Sues After Being Denied a Home Due to Family Size


— November 3, 2019

The Iacopellis family is suing Cascade Place Condominiums in Grand Rapids after being told they couldn’t move in due to the size of their family.


After being told they cannot move into a prospective home due to the size of their family, the Iacopellis family is suing Cascade Place Condominiums in Grand Rapids. According to the lawsuit, the family has four kids, including two boys and two boys and are expecting a fifth child in February. When the family sold their house earlier this year and began looking for a new place to live, they decided to rent a home at Cascade Place Condominiums. However, just days before moving in, Matt and Lynn Iacopelli were told they “have too many kids to live there” and that the maximum occupancy is five people per condominium.

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Legal gavel; image courtesy of succo via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

According to the couple, before learning about the occupancy rule, they had already been told they could move in. As a result, they “rented moving trucks and storage” and began making preparations for the move when they received a text message about the occupancy limit. It was unwelcome news and left the family with few options. The couple said, “It was a punch to the gut to be punished for fertility, which is a blessing.” They added, “It really put us in a big predicament going from, ‘Hey, you can move into this place on Wednesday,’ to ‘Hey, you still have nowhere to live.’”

As a result of the news, the family reached out to the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, an organization that defends people from housing discrimination. When commenting on the incident with the Iacopelli family, Elizabeth Stoddard, director of advocacy for the center, said, “We’re not talking about a nonfamily household of seven college students, and so it’s important to remember we’re talking about families with children and their access to housing.” She added the currently the agency is handling more than 50 cases involving discrimination based on family size and said it is a “civil rights issue that can end up before the Michigan Civil Rights Department or federal housing authorities.” She added:

We are seeing this happen quite often. And we often say West Michigan is such a great place to raise family and we have all these things that draw in families with children, but if you can’t find a place to live, that dream is not a reality for you.”

It is worth noting that the condominium the Iacopellis family was looking at was a “three-bedroom that could house up to nine people,” according to Cascade Township’s regulations.

The family’s lawsuit was filed in federal court in Grand Rapids and names Greenridge Realty, commercial real estate company NAI Wisinski of West Michigan and the Cascade Place Condominium Association as defendants. When responding to the allegations, attorneys for Wisinski and Greenridge said they had “nothing to do with writing the rules.” However, Robert Howard, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the Iacopellis, said Wiskiskis “is responsible for enforcing the rules.” He added that “while a restriction on the number of people looks neutral, it impacts families because only about 0.2% of households with six or more people are not families.” He further argued that “family size is protected by the civil rights law in Michigan” and said his clients “deserve financial compensation for the hardships caused by the denial of housing.”

Sources:

Housing lawsuit: Family size is a civil right

Fair Housing for Families with Children

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