October 21, 2004
HUD CHARGES OHIO MAN AND MOBILE HOME PARK OWNERS WITH VIOLATIONS OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
Mobile home park manager, Robin Daniels, allegedly discriminated against
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced
that it charged the owners, operators and a resident manager of Urbana Estates,
a mobile home park in Urbana, Ohio, with violating the fair housing rights of
tenants, Lloyd and Catherine Stewart.
HUD's investigation showed that in April 2002, Urbana MHP, LLC, purchased the mobile home park and appointed Randy and Mary Daniels as resident managers. Later that summer Randy Daniels, speaking of Lloyd Stewart, an African-American resident, allegedly told tenants, "We do not want any (racial epithet) living here and they can be evicted." Witnesses also confirmed Daniels having said, "There won't be any more like him moving into this park."
In June 2002, Randy Daniels died and his son Robin Daniels was appointed as his replacement. Later that summer, Robin Daniels allegedly continued the pattern of harassment when he drove his pickup past the Stewart's mobile home and shouted a racial epithet at Mr. Stewart.
On a separate occasion, Lloyd Stewart called the rental office to complain about what he considered management trespassing on his property. Once the call ended, Robin Daniels called the local police to report that Stewart had harassed him by making derogatory comments about his deceased father. Robin Daniels insisted that a telephone harassment charge be filed against Mr. Stewart. However, when Mr. Stewart appeared in Champaign County Municipal Court to answer the charge, the case against him was dismissed.
HUD's investigation found that on two separate occasions when white residents
made threats against resident managers, the managers wished only to document
"No family should be subjected to the torment and public humiliation this couple went through," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The right to live where you want, without regard to race is one of the cornerstones of the Fair Housing Act."
A hearing on the charges is scheduled to be held by a U.S. Administrative
Law Judge on January 11, 2005, in the Urbana, Ohio area, unless either the complainant
or respondent elect to have the case decided by a federal judge in U.S. District
Court. An election to go to district court must be made by October 26. 2004.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an ALJ carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense in addition to actual damages, including emotional distress damages, for the complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney fees. Penalties can be more severe if the respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Should there be an election to go to federal district court, either party may request a jury trial. A district court may award the damages available in an administrative proceeding and may also award punitive damages.
In either forum, an attorney from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development or an attorney from the United States Department of Justice brings the case on behalf of the complainants. The complainants and the respondent have the right to be represented by their own attorney. HUD is the nation's housing agency and is committed to increasing homeownership, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans and supporting the homeless, the elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. Additional information is available at www.usdoj.gov.
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