HUD Charges Fla. RV Manager with Discrimination

A Davenport owner and manager told a transgender tenant she must continue acting as a man in public because it makes other residents “uncomfortable” and is “disruptive.”

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it is charging a Davenport RV park, 21 Palms RV Resort Park, and owner/manager Nathan Dykgraaf with discriminating against a former tenant because of her gender identity.

HUD says the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating based on a tenant’s gender identity, which includes prohibiting tenants from expressing their gender.

HUD’s charge alleges that Dykgraaf violated the Act when he gave the tenant a letter stating that he was aware she was transitioning and telling her to “act as a man, talk as a man, and dress as a man” to avoid trouble.

After receiving the letter, the tenant stopped dressing publicly as a woman fearing eviction or other trouble. The tenant says she also interacted less with neighbors and used the community amenities less often.

After a complaint was filed, Dykgraaf wrote to HUD, saying the complainant is “not free to engage with other tenants about her clothing and transition that makes them uncomfortable. It is considered disruptive to the community.”

“No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “Setting restrictions like these is not only unacceptable, it is also illegal. This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring housing providers meet their fair housing obligations.”

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an ALJ finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the ALJ may award damages to the complainants for harm caused by the discrimination. The ALJ may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the ALJ may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the federal district court judge may also award punitive damages.

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