HUD No. 05-103
Antoinette P. Banks
August 4, 2005
HUD CHARGES MILWAUKEE PROPERTY OWNERS WITH A SECOND VIOLATION OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
Walter Perlick Family Trust accused of refusing to rent to families with children
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that it has charged the Walter Perlick Family Trust of Milwaukee, Wis. and others with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent an apartment to a family mother and her child based on familial status. The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to discriminate because of children in a household. This is the second time HUD has charged Respondents Dudley Godfrey, Jr. and Robert Perlick, co-trustees of the Walter Perlick Family Trust, with discriminating against families with children.
In 1992, HUD charged Robert Perlick, principal beneficiary of the Trust, and others with discriminating against families with children when renting his property located at 4215 W. Martin Drive in Milwaukee. The consent order issued by an administrative law judge required Perlick and the managers of the complex to issue a statement notifying all employees and agents that they could not limit the occupancy of their rental properties to occupancy by single adults. The judge also ordered that the owners post an equal opportunity sign in all their properties that stated they would not discriminate in violation of the Fair Housing Act. It also required that all of their employees were to be informed of the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
"Obviously Mr. Perlick's memory, and that of his staff, is shorter than ours," said Floyd May, HUD's General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "There is no double jeopardy where the Fair Housing Act is concerned. If you continue discriminating, we will continue to enforce the law. No landlord can dictate where someone lives simply on the basis of familial status."
HUD's investigation found that, in October 2003, Milwaukee resident Sharon Spears learned of the subject property when Respondents posted a rental ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which read "Quiet neighborhood. 1 and 2 BR, Heat, appl. and A/C." When Spears called to inquire about the property, which was the same W. Martin Drive property that was the subject of HUD's 1992 charge, she was asked if she had any children. When Spears responded that she had one child, she was told, "no kids."
Spears immediately told her mother, Katherine Spears, about the conversation and her mother then called the rental company. Katherine had the same experience. The woman answering the phone told her, "I'm sorry, we don't rent to children," and "I'm only doing what I was told."
Spears then contacted the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC), a HUD-funded private, fair-housing organization. MMFHC conducted multiple tests, which confirmed that Perlick and site manager, Tony Russell, were not allowing families with children to rent the property on W. Martin Drive.
"Congress made it illegal to discriminate against families with children in 1988," said May. "In an era where finding safe, decent, affordable housing for families can sometimes be difficult, equal access is more important than ever."
A hearing on the charges will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on October 18, 2005 in the Milwaukee area, unless either the complainant or a 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 August 8, 2005.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an ALJ carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense and - more if the respondent has committed prior violations of the Act - plus actual damages for the complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney fees.
Should either party elect to go to 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, the case is brought on behalf of the complainant, and the complaint is enforced by an attorney from HUD before a U.S. Administrative Law Judge or by an Assistant United States Attorney or an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice in federal district court. Also, each party has the right to be represented by his or her own attorney.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as 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 or DOJ at 1( 800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available on the Internet and www.usdoj.gov.