HUD No. 06-111
September 14, 2006
HUD CHARGES MASSACHUSETTS LANDLORD WITH VIOLATING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
Worcester landlord allegedly refused to rent to an African-American man with disabilities
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged landlord, James Quill, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent an apartment to a man because the man is African American and has physical disabilities.
The charge alleges that Quill refused to rent a one-bedroom house in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Keith Harris, who has end-stage kidney disease and is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Harris wanted to rent the house because it is close to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, where he undergoes dialysis treatments.
HUD's investigation found that in September 2005, Harris called Quill about an advertisement he saw in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette Newspaper for a one-bedroom house, and told Quill that he was very interested in the place . Quill refused to show Harris the house. In addition, Quill used a racially offensive term to describe Harris.
Quill eventually rented the house to a white person who is not disabled. During HUD's investigation, Quill told investigators that he was "not in a position to provide for people's endless physical and emotional needs."
"Had it not been for his skin color and disability, Mr. Harris would probably be living in the house today," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The Fair Housing Act clearly states that it is unlawful to refuse to rent a home to a person because of their race or disability, and HUD will not hesitate to take action when this happens."
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) or 800-927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.