HUD No. 07-067
May 17, 2007
HUD CHARGES VIRGINA BEACH LANDLORD WITH VIOLATING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
Owner accused of treating black families worse, using racial slurs
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Dr. James Crockett Henry, owner of a 30-unit complex in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly subjecting African-American tenants to stricter rules than others, using racial slurs about them, and retaliating against them. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing because of race or color.
The charge comes after a complaint was filed with HUD by Annette and Tasha Reddick and several other African-American families, who alleged that Dr. Henry discouraged black residents from having visitors, and reported their visitors to police as trespassers. The complaint further alleges that he enforced a "quiet time" policy for black residents and used racial slurs, including the "N" word, to describe the children of African-American residents. Henry also allegedly told one black tenant that the complex, comprised mostly of black families, was like his "ghetto tribe plantation," and that if she would "act like a human being" he "wouldn't have to train her."
In addition, when told that some black residents had filed housing discrimination complaints, Henry took steps to terminate their leases, citing allegedly false lease violations, such as illegal drug activity.
"Tenants should not have to put up with such offensive racial statements in the place they call home," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "We will enforce the law against all landlords who discriminate, and make sure our federal dollars don't go toward this kind of injustice. It is against the law and HUD won't stand for it."
A hearing on the charge will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on July 24, 2007, in Virginia Beach, unless one of the parties elects to have the case heard in U.S. District Court. An election to go to District Court must be made by May 23, 2007.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $16,000 for each violation for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorneys' fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,328 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1 (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing. Stay on top of the most up-to-date news regarding the Fair Housing Act by signing up for the FHEO RSS Feed.