The Justice Department is suing the owner, management company and former manager of a 268-unit apartment complex in Washington State for what appear to be flagrant violations of the Fair Housing Act, a surprise given the level of experience required to run rental properties that large.
The suit alleges, among other things, that the defendants steered Indian tenants away from one of the five buildings, treated tenants from India less favorably than other tenants, and discouraged African Americans, Hispanics and families with children from living in the units.
Two employees allegedly contacted their local Office of Civil Rights (KCOCR) in 2007 to complain of discriminatory housing practices at one of the buildings. That office then contacted the Fair Housing Council of Washington which sent in “testers”, persons posing as applicants to obtain information. The case was later referred to HUD. After further investigation, the Secretary of HUD determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred and issued a charge of discrimination. The defendants elected to have the matters asserted in the HUD charge heard in federal court.
The suit is seeking damages for those harmed by the defendants actions, and could result in significant fines.
The Justice Department reiterates their stance that prosecuting Fair Housing cases is a top priority.
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