HUD No. 06-105
August 31, 2006
HUD CHARGES ILLINOIS LANDLORDS WITH VIOLATION OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
Married couple allegedly refused to rent to African-American Woman
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Nelson and Ella Stuber with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent an apartment to an African-American woman because they feared the neighbors would move out, and for making statements that indicated a preference or limitation because of race.
The charge alleges that the owners refused to rent a duplex at 730 Detroit Avenue in Morton, Illinois, to Patricia Tyus and her twelve-year old daughter, who is disabled. Ms. Tyus wanted to live at this property because the Morton School District offers excellent special education programs, and because it is close to her job.
In September 2005, Ms. Tyus visited the property and inquired about renting the apartment. She met with Nelson Stuber, who showed her the unit. During the showing, Mr. Stuber asked if she was African-American and she told him yes. Ms. Tyus then told him that she was interested in the unit and wanted to fill out an application. Mr. Stuber told her that he did not have an application with him, but that he could go and get one, as he lived only a few blocks away. When he returned, he did not have the application and allegedly said, "My wife says I should not rent to you." Ms. Tyus asked if it was because she was African-American, and he replied affirmatively.
After Ms. Tyus let him know that his actions were "discriminatory and illegal," he allegedly said, "but if I rent to you, the neighbors will move out; the last time we showed the unit to an African-American lady, the neighbor threatened to move out. Besides if I rent to you, you will come, your family will come and then all your friends."
At the time of the alleged violation, the Stubers owned 16 rental properties, which consisted of single-family homes and duplexes. In February 2006, Mr. Stuber acknowledged that he had never rented to a minority.
"No one should have to put up with this type of humiliation when they are simply looking for a home," said Kim Kendrick, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Being able to secure housing without regard to one's race is one of the cornerstones of the Fair Housing Act."
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney's fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Initiatives Program and the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 9,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) (800) 927-9275 (TTY) or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.usdoj.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 or DOJ at (800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available on the Internet and www.usdoj.gov.