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Feds says Bay View isn't exempt from housing discrimination

Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group
Bay View Assocation was founded as a Methodist camp in 1875.

Federal housing authorities say a resort in northern Michigan has failed to prove it is allowed to restrict home ownership to Christians. There are more than 400 privately-owned cottages at Bay View Association near Petoskey on Lake Michigan, which only practicing Christians can own.

In 2016, more than 15 people filed complaints against Bay View with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, says Don Duquette, one of the complainants. Together they argue Bay View is violating the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, which prohibits things like religious discrimination for housing.

Bay View counters that it can limit homeownership to Christians because it is exempt from fair housing rules as a religious organization. But now HUD says Bay View has failed to prove it is exempt. In a May 7 letter to the complainants and Bay View's attorney, John Meade –an enforcement branch chief in HUD's Midwest Regional Office – wrote:

"This letter is regarding the above complaint alleging that acts of discrimination have been committed in violation of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (the "Act"). The United State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Region V, has determined that the Respondent Bay View Association has not met its burden to prove it is exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act. The investigation into the violations alleged by the Complainants shall now commence."

These complaints are separate from a federal lawsuit, which will go before a judge in July.

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.