You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Rights group lands $39.5K settlement after calling out Scio Farms Estates' policies as discriminatory

By Amy Biolchini

In an out-of-court settlement, Scio Farms Estates and its parent company have paid out $39,500 after a rights group claimed the manufactured home community was enforcing its policies in a way that discriminated against people with developmental disabilities.

Scio Farms Estates, at 6655 Jackson Road, in Scio Township, is owned by Sun Community Homes, a national organization based in Southfield. Homes in the community can be leased or purchased by tenants.


The manufactured home community Scio Farms Estates in 2005 at 6655 Jackson Rd. in Scio Township.

Alan Warren | The Ann Arbor News file photo

A complaint lodged against Scio Farms Estates and its parent organization with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development claimed the company violated the federal Fair Housing Act.

Renaissance Community Homes, based in Milan, is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill to find housing and live independently.

Developmental disabilities typically are long-term and severe issues that can be physical, like blindness, or affect mental ability, like learning disorders. They also can affect them in both ways, like Down syndrome.

The organization had attempted to house several developmentally disabled adults in homes at Scio Farms Estates in 2011.

The lease applications were denied by Scio Farms twice for two different reasons: The first time because the person signing the lease would not be living there, and a second time, because the payer of the lease (Renaissance Community Homes) would not be living in the home, said Pam Kisch, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan.

Kisch said the way in which Scio Farms Estates was enforcing their policies made it impossible for people with developmental disabilities to live on the property.

Renaissance Community Homes then contacted the Fair Housing Center, a nonprofit organization that investigates complaints from people who feel their civil rights have been violated in the rental, sale or financing of housing. In the past 20 years, the center has filed about 75 lawsuits and garnered $1.7 million in settlements for its clients.

After sending several individuals to investigate the policies at Scio Farms Estates, the staff at the Fair Housing Center found several discrepancies in policy application.

In one instance, a woman working for the Fair Housing Center posed as a student seeking a home from Scio Farms and told them her parents would be co-signing the lease, even though they lived out of state, Kisch said.

Scio Farms Estates granted the student the lease, Kisch said.

“(Their policy) was not applied equally,” Kisch said.

The Fair Housing Center and Renaissance Community Homes then filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Scio Farms Estates.

A settlement agreement was signed May 16 out-of-court between the complainants. Kisch said she didn’t announce the settlement had been reached until the settlement check had been delivered late this month.

Sun Community Homes was ordered to pay out $30,000 to Renaissance Community Homes and $9,500 to the Fair Housing Center, which the organization will use to monitor Sun Community Homes for fair housing compliance during the next year.

They'll also have to develop training for its staff on fair housing issues and to amend its policies.

Sun Community Homes did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

I"m so sick of political correctness telling people how to run their businesses. If someone could have proved that Scio Farms Estates allowed absolutely no people with disabilities to live there, that would be a human rights issue. Not allowing 3rd parties to rent a lot is completely different, it is not discrimination against people with disabilities. Shame on Renaissance Community Homes for insisting that the rules that apply to everyone else be waived for them and shame on the "Fair Housing Center" for suing and forcing Sun Community Homes to pay out $39.5 thousand simply for enforcing it's fair and reasonable policies.

Gary Haller

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

if you went door to door in any trailer park you would find a lot of folks living in units that they do not own arent on the lease the community has no knowledge of the tenants at all How does this happen.?. People move and other people move in under the radar.. checks for rent are dropped off after hours .. if there arent problems this goes on for years the time when the community can enforce these rules is when a prospective new tennant comes through the front door Then these rules come into play.. some times families live in a community so long that the chilodren end up living in the home and the parents have moved away .... These few scenarios are just the tip of the ice berg of what goes on Eminem said it best 2 Trailer Park Girls Go Round The Outside !!!


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

I am a little confused by the comparison of having a co-signer on a lease along with someone who is living in the unit; as opposed to having a third party be THE signer on a lease, implying the person that lives there is not a signer to the lease. Effectively, you are leasing the unit to a 3rd party who now has control over who lives there. Since no one else is signing the lease, they possibly could move different people in and out. That is not equivalent at all to co-signing a loan. I can understand why Scio Farms would not want to do this. Not being an expert on the laws though, I cannot comment about what they may be required to do. On a different note, the headline here seems inappropriate. 'calling out'? How about accusing; discovering; showing; proving? I try to not be too critical here for word usage, but 'calling out' seems just too juvenile a phrase to be be used as part of a headline.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

To be fair, although the phrase "calling out" is not suitable for professional journalism, this is not professional journalism, so it can be used here. But beyond that, you call somebody out *on* this or that, not *as* this or that.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Extortion by government is so very efficient.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

"payed out"? Oh, dear.

Lynn Liston

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

This article somewhat misrepresents the community of Scio Farms Estates. I live there and every day I see neighbors with various disabilities walking, or using their wheelchairs, on our neighborhood streets, some with their guide dogs or service dogs. The residents are culturally diverse and people here are very friendly and are good neighbors. Most of us are home owners who invest in our homes as a permanent residence just as in any neighborhood. As a home-owner resident, I understand the policy that prohibits third party lessees, and the strict credit and background checks on potential residents. It is unfortunate that Renaissance Community Homes, a private organization, was not able to qualify for a lease, but I think that they could have worked this out by awarding an annual income stipend to the applicant so that person could have paid for the lease on their own with the assistance of a home aide. Everyone else here has to abide by the corporation's lease requirements.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

I live in a sun home community they are very unfair I have seen homes trashed and not a word said cars parked all over the streets nothing said but 2 doors down you can have a blind cracked and get a notice its like they pick and choose

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

And they stole all your punctuation, too!


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Seriously, "polices"??? You guys type these stories out on your phones right?


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Is "polices" the plural of "police?"

Ed Kimball

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

No, it's the singular of the verb "to police". "The cop polices his beat every day."


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

I remember, years ago, applying for a place in Scio Farms. After reviewing the application, they said I was denied due to a felony on my record. (FWIW, I have never had a felony, lol). I asked them, since it was obviously a mistake, what I could do to clear it up. They said I had to go down, IN PERSON, to an office in South Carolina, to explain it. Needless to say, I turned around and got a much better place, and have never been back there.