Bay View Association violates Federal Fair Housing laws

The Bay View community has been ordered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to allow non-Christians to buy and own houses as the town is not exempt from any fair housing laws. The community is affiliated with United Methodist Church.

Bay View was established during the 1940s as part of a spiritual revival movement. The HUD, in its letter to the community, said they failed to prove their exemption from the Fair Housing Act. HUD forbids any religious discrimination when it comes to housing. The letter also added that it is investigating several violations mentioned by multiple complainants. As per the HUD, it received 15 complaints as of 2016 over its stated policy. Bay View has argued it should be considered as a religious organization. This makes it eligible for exclusive rules pertaining to home ownership.

As per rules set by Bay View during its early years, a prospective buyer must fulfill two requirements: the person must be a Christian and must be white. The first must be proved with a letter written by a pastor. The race part was dropped by the town in the 1950s. Bay View, however, maintained the clause ruling only Christians could live in the town.

The Bay View Association was challenged through legal means in 2017. The list of plaintiffs included present Bay View residents concerned about family members unable to inherit residences. Others who have joined in the legal fight are those who are unable to buy within the community. Both these two are primarily due to the religious differences.

The community at present is made of approximately 400 homes. All are privately owned. Supporters of the present rules have argued they would prefer to be regarded as a religious organization. The basis for this demand is that Bay View association has a close affiliation with United Methodist Church. The authorities are in no mood to relent. They pointed out that by following such narrow eligibility of residence, the community violates Federal Fair Housing laws. A judge will hear additional complaints against the community further into 2018.

Sarah Prescott, the attorney representing plaintiffs, told the media in an interview that she took the case due to her belief that "the violations of law appeared to be both clear and genuinely harming good people."

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