The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a settlement in a housing discrimination case involving Oglethorpe Square Apartments of Savannah, Georgia, and Gene B. Glick Company, Inc., of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Housing discrimination creates unfair conditions for those who need to rent or buy a home and thanks to the Fair Housing Act there is recourse for those who experience discrimination at any stage of the housing process (see below for information on how to report housing discrimination).
Many times, the only people who have the power to stop further violations of federal law are the victims of the discrimination; without reporting the illegal activity, it can go on uncontested for a long time.
It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century we must still read about the facts in cases like the one recently settled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the HUD official site recently announced a settlement in a case involving discrimination up to and including physical attacks.
According to the HUD official site, this agreement “settles allegations that the owners and management agent for the Woods of Savannah apartment complex subjected African-American tenants at the property to repeated instances of racial harassment by white tenants, which included verbal attacks and physical assaults”.
Federal Fair Housing laws forbid discrimination in housing over non-financial qualifications such as race or color, which according to the HUD official site, “includes failing to take measures to end tenant-on-tenant harassment and denying tenants’ maintenance requests”.
Yes, the landlord is held responsible for not intervening in discriminatory behavior that happens in their property.
“No one should ever have to face threats or be subjected to physical violence in the place they call home because of their race,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in the press release.
She adds, “The agreement we’re announcing today is a reminder to housing providers everywhere that HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet their obligation to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.”
This Fair Housing Act case would not have been prosecuted if it had not been for the actions of three African-American residents of The Woods of Savannah “filed complaints claiming that the owners of the property refused to investigate and address their claims that white tenants had subjected them to racial harassment and verbal and physical assaults, including attacks by dogs”.
Furthermore, there were allegations that the property management company “ignored their maintenance requests and delayed the maintenance requests of other African-American residents.”
“The housing provider denied discriminating against the residents but agreed to settle their complaints” according to HUD.
What were the consequences for the violators? Oglethorpe Square Apartments, LP, and Gene B. Glick Company must pay the three residents who filed complaints $20,000 per person.
There must be a compensation fund arranged for other tenants “who may have been subjected to racial harassment. The owners also agreed to provide annual fair housing training for the staff and on-site management of The Woods of Savannah”.
If you have experienced housing discrimination at any stage of the housing process including the FHA loan application, file a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (Voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.