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CUOMO ANNOUNCES HOUSING DISCRIMINATION CHARGES AGAINST RICHMOND LANDLORD ACCUSED OF REFUSING TO RENT TO BLACK WOMAN
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development today filed housing discrimination charges against the owner of a Richmond, VA, apartment house, accusing him of refusing to rent to a woman because she is black and because she has a child, Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced.
"The days when landlords could say 'no blacks allowed' and 'no children allowed' are history," Cuomo said. "The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of Americans to live in any home and any neighborhood they can afford. President Clinton has directed HUD to crack down on violations of the Fair Housing Act, and we're doing that in Richmond and around the nation."
Gerald Quincy Loney, an African American woman who is the mother of an 11-year-old son, said she was discriminated against by landlord Latane Frank Norman, who co-owns a three-unit apartment house with his wife, Louise, at 3 North Boulevard in Richmond.
Loney said she called Norman after she saw an ad for a vacant apartment in his building, and he told her the rent was $500 a month. After talking with her on the telephone and asking additional questions about her son, Norman raised the rent to $575 and told her she could not immediately see the apartment. When Loney called in several days she said Norman told her the rent for the apartment was now $700. Loney said she insisted on seeing the apartment and made an appointment, but Norman did not keep the appointment.
Two weeks later, Loney noticed the apartment was again being advertised so she said she had a white co-worker inquire and that person was told the rent was $500. Loney said she then called Norman again, disguising her voice, and was told the rent was $500. She made an appointment to see the unit and when Norman saw her, he said she was ten minutes late and that he had just rented the apartment. In fact, the apartment had not been rented.
A tenant of the apartment house later told investigators that Norman had said that a "colored lady" with children had come by to see the apartment and that he did not want anything to do with children in his apartments, even though he knew he could get into trouble for not renting to families with children. The tenant, who is a single white woman, said Norman told her that he wanted "decent people" like her to rent the apartment.
Following her experience, Loney contacted Housing Opportunity Made Equal (HOME) in October, a private fair housing group partially funded by HUD.
"At first, when he raised the rent from $500 to $575, a part of me said he made a mistake," Loney said. I asked myself,: Is this man raising the rent because he does not want me to move in? I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. When he told me within a week that the rent was $700, I was outraged."
As part of its investigation, HOME conducted tests at the apartment house. One black tester was quoted a higher rent than quoted to white testers. Another black tester was told no apartments were available. A white tester was told there was an opening.
Loney and HOME filed complaints in March with HUD, which conducted further investigation culminating in the charge announced today.
"This year, the 30th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, I am reaffirming HUD's commitment to the crackdown on housing discrimination that we began in September at President Clinton's direction," Cuomo said. "Unfortunately, this type of discrimination isn't just part of our past. It's a harsh reality that hurts far too many Americans today."
This past fiscal year, as a result of HUD's crackdown, HUD obtained $9.6 million in relief for individuals in housing discrimination settlements - compared with $4.4 million the year before.
President Clinton's proposed 1999 federal budget seeks $22 million in increased funding for HUD to intensify the fight against housing discrimination. The 73 percent increase for HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity would boost spending by the office to $52 million. If approved by Congress, it would be the largest single budget increase in civil rights law enforcement in two decades.
The Fair Housing Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation. People who believe they have been harmed by housing discrimination can file complaints with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint with HUD over the Internet.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009