Article Courtesy of Bay News 9
By Erin Maloney
Published November 2, 2016
LAKELAND -- A senior community was found to be in violation
of the Fair Housing Act after failing to allow a disabled person to live in the
park, even though the person was under the set age limit.
Nikole Haase, 27, not
allowed to live with mother Linda at Skyview Estates. Nikole is
wheelchair-bound and requires constant care. The Case will set
precedent, possibly change the way senior communities operate in
Linda Haase, 55, wanted to move into Skyview Estates in Lakeland
to be closer to her family, who also live in the community.
The park, however only allows people 55 and older to live in
homes inside the gated property. It does make exceptions for
people over 45, if they are also living with a 55 year old.
Haase was allowed to move in, but board members voted to not
allow her 27-year-old daughter Nikole to live there because she
is too young.
Nikole is wheelchair bound, with cerebral palsy, and requires
constant care. As Nikole's primary caregiver, Linda petitioned
the park to allow them to live together there due to her
When the park refused, Haase filed a complaint with the Florida
Commission on Human Relations, which sided with her. The
commission found the park was in violation of the Fair Housing
Act, and forced Skyview Estates to allow Nikole to move in.
Linda Haase (far left), 55, wanted to move into Skyview
Estates in Lakeland to be closer to her family, who also live in the
age-restricted community. Haase was allowed to move in, but board
members voted to not allow her 27-year-old daughter Nikole (far right)
to live there because she is too young.
“We are not discriminating against a handicapped person,"
said Bonnie Powell, President of Skyview Estates in Lakeland. "We are
discriminating against a 27 year old,”
Powell says this case will set a precedent and change the way senior living
communities in Florida operate.
“Our next move will have to be to talk to an attorney and ask him if we have any
grounds , or if we, The Villages, any retirement community is now going to have
to allow any disabled person of any age into our communities,” said Powell.
Linda couldn’t understand why the park wouldn’t make an accommodation for her
daughter. Nikole enjoys painting, reading, and being with her grandparents.
“It is the law -- reasonable accommodation for a disabled child whose parent is
the age that can live here," said Linda. "It’s huge because I am her primary
caregiver and she has to live with me."
The commission’s investigation into the case revealed there were other younger
members living in the park without any repercussions. Powell said she has
documents to prove that is not the case, and plans to fight the decision.
“It will change every retirement community in Florida," Powell said. This isn’t
just us, it’s going to set a precedent.”
It’s a precedent the Haase family believes is necessary to protect the rights of
people with disabilities.
The park board members will meet in the next few weeks to decide how to move
forward with the case.
Linda Haase may have a civil case too, according to the Florida Commission on