HUD CHARGES OWNER AND MANAGER OF CINCINNATI APARTMENT COMPLEX WITH RACE DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the owner and the manager of the 63-unit, Valley Woods Apartments in Cincinnati, OH, with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly denying rental opportunities to African Americans. HUD brings the charge on behalf of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit fair housing organization, which filed a complaint with the Department based on the experiences of two African American testers.
According to the charge, HOME conducted two sets of paired tests in response to allegations that Valley Woods Apartments was rapidly changing from being predominantly black to predominantly Hispanic. The first African American tester called three times in four days, and was given different reasons each time for the manager being unable to schedule an appointment to view an apartment. The final time the tester called, the apartment manager allegedly informed him that she was waiting for another applicant to pay the deposit on the only available unit and suggested he call back in a week. In contrast, on the next day when a Hispanic tester called to inquire about an available apartment, the apartment manager allegedly offered to show him the unit that day. The Hispanic tester followed up with two more phone calls, during which the apartment manager provided him with information about the unit and suggested how he could reserve it for himself. The Hispanic tester then scheduled an appointment and was able to tour a two-bedroom apartment.
Two weeks later, the same two-bedroom apartment was still available when a second African American tester called the apartment complex to inquire about available units. The apartment manager returned his call and informed him that the two-bedroom apartment had been rented and that she did not know when any other unit would be available, and advised him to call back in two weeks. According to the Charge, when the second Hispanic tester called the next day, the apartment manager offered to show him the two-bedroom apartment immediately.
“Fair housing testers are specially trained and are critical to uncovering patterns of different treatment by housing providers. An estimated one in five black and Hispanic housing seekers faces different treatment,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Without paired testing, people may not know they’ve experienced discrimination.”
The HUD charge will be heard by a United States 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 HOME aggrieved for the damages caused it by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY).