PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Multnomah County couple is suing Do Good Multnomah, a local non-profit, for allegedly kicking them out of their residence based on familial status.
Megan and James Vanness were participants in Do Good Multnomah’s (DGM’s) “Motel Based Emergency Shelter Program,” according to the lawsuit filed in early August, which says DGM describes the program as a shelter that “has transitioned into a long-term model for alternative sheltering.”
In September 2020, Megan Vanness discovered that she was pregnant, a fact which she says was shared with her DGM caseworker in late September, according to the lawsuit.
In December 2020, the Vannesses moved into DGM’s Barbur Boulevard location, the suit says. The Vannesses claim in the lawsuit that throughout their time living there, they were never issued any warning or complaints for violations of DGM’s policies until Megan Vanness was near her due date.
The Vannesses claim that around May 21, 2021, they were kicked out of the Barbur location by DGM, with the non-profit saying that the Vannesses stating they could not be a part of the program because of the forthcoming birth of their kid.
The lawsuit claims “DGM told them that it was against DGM’s policy to have their child at the residence, stating among other things that it was a ‘legal issue’ because DGM was ‘not a family shelter.’ In response, the Vannesses asserted their rights to be free from discrimination based on familial status, which DGM ignored or denied.”
The lawsuit further says “DGM also represented to the Vannesses that they could not live at the Barbur location with their child because the location could potentially house residents who were convicted of sex offenses.”
The Vannesses reported the believed wrongdoing by creating a post on Craigslist alleging DGM’s violations of the Fair Housing Rights Act. They also reached out to a nearby school, alerting them of DGM’s statements on sex offenders potentially living at the Barbur location.
The Vannesses claim this Craigslist post as well as the fact that they reached out to the school were also used against them and they were forced to leave the residence they had been living in for many months.
The lawsuit seeks the Vannesses suing Do Good Multnomah for Discrimination Based on Familial Status, because they were going to have a child, and did have a child after being evicted from their home.
According to the lawsuit, the Vannesses are seeking $450,000 plus damages as well as other equitable relief “to restrain Defendants from engaging in existing and future violations of fair housing laws.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to Do Good Multnomah, who says they have not been served yet. KOIN 6 is waiting for a response regarding their policy on sex offenders living at the shelter.
KOIN 6 News also reached out to the lawyers for the Vannesses but did not hear back.
The shelter is also close to the playground at Markham Elementary. KOIN 6 News reached out to the school district about the shelter’s proximity to the school and have not heard back.
Meanwhile, the county is named in the lawsuit, but does not have a comment.