WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a Paramus, New Jersey, property owner with housing discrimination for allegedly refusing to rent an apartment to an African-American woman because of her race. HUD’s charge further alleges that the owner used racial slurs in a text message he sent to the woman informing her that she did not get the apartment.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny housing to someone because of his or her race or color. Read HUD’s charge.
“50 years after our nation passed a law prohibiting discrimination in housing, some individuals are still being denied a place to live because of the color of their skin,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s action reflects HUD’s commitment to protecting the rights of home seekers, no matter their race, and taking action against housing providers that break the law.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a woman filed a complaint alleging that and she and her young son were denied the opportunity to rent a two-bedroom apartment that was advertised on Craigslist because they are African-American. HUD’s charge, on behalf of the woman, alleges that in text messages, the owner informed the woman that she did not “make the cut” and used racial slurs.
“No one looking for housing should be rejected because of race, much less be subjected to the indignity of racial slurs,” said J. Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “This charge sends a clear message that HUD will protect the housing rights of all persons to the fullest extent of the law.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a administrative law judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights. Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Read more.