HUD No. 06-151
December, 11 2006
HUD REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH PENNSYLVANIA APARTMENT COMPLEX OWNER AND MANAGEMENT COMPANY
Bensalem, PA, apartment complex owner and management company agree to compensate couple in excess of $30,000 for alleged discrimination
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has negotiated a settlement that will pay over $30,000 to an African-American couple who allege that a Bensalem, PA, apartment complex refused to rent to them because of their race. The couple, Talitha Fleming and William Murray, filed a complaint with HUD in August 2005 alleging that Country Commons Apartments, a 352-unit HUD-subsidized apartment complex owned by Richlieu Associates and managed by AIMCO, denied them tenancy at the complex while giving preferential treatment to applicants of Russian descent.
To resolve the allegations, Country Commons and AIMCO agreed to pay the couple $10,000, plus their monthly rent and security deposit at their current residence until a unit becomes available at Country Commons. After a unit becomes available, Country Commons and AIMCO will pay the couple's rent for the first 18 months of their tenancy. Country Commons and AIMCO also will restore passed over African Americans to the top of the waiting list. HUD's investigation suggests the complex may have passed over African Americans in favor of Russian applicants.
As required by the Fair Housing Act, HUD attempted conciliation and, as part of the conciliation agreement, Country Commons Apartments, Richlieu Association, and AIMCO, in addition to the aforementioned, agreed to:
- Immediately discontinue the use of the current waiting list to fill vacancies. HUD has provided guidelines for the establishment of a nondiscriminatory waiting list and will monitor the performance of Country Commons in establishing the waiting list. Until a new waiting list is created, Country Commons is not permitted to fill any vacancies without first receiving approval from HUD's Philadelphia FHEO office.
- Contact the other African-American applicants whose applications were denied to determine if they still have an interest in residing at Country Commons. If they are still interested, Country Commons is required to work with them to get them in a position where they are eligible for residency there. Those applicants will be placed at the top of the new waiting lists in the order in which they become eligible for tenancy.
- Ensure that Country Commons Apartment has software in place to maintain electronic waiting lists. Waiting lists must include the name of the head of household, date and time the applicant submitted the application, annual income, and need for accessible features.
- Require the Community Manager and the Assistant Community Manager at Country Commons to attend a sensitivity training program on how to deal effectively with members of the protected classes set forth in the Fair Housing Act.
"Housing discrimination based on race is bad enough. HUD has an additional obligation to make sure that all HUD-funded property is open to everyone regardless of race," said Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This settlement is a victory not only for Ms. Fleming and Mr. Murray, but it makes sure that housing at Country Commons is open to all persons regardless of race."
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,300 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.