HUD No. 07-083
June 11, 2007
HUD DEBARS OMAHA LANDLORD FOR VIOLATING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
Section 8 landlord made unwelcome sexual advances to female renters
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has debarred John Koch, an Omaha, NE, landlord from doing business with the federal government for three years for making unwanted sexual advances toward female residents of his rental properties and also making unwanted advances toward female rental applicants.
The debarment is based on a civil judgment entered against Koch following a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The court found that Koch, who manages several Section 8 properties, violated the Fair Housing Act, by engaging in an illegal pattern and practice of housing discrimination over a ten-year period. During that period, Koch subjected numerous female tenants and prospective female tenants to severe, pervasive, and unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances.
Total, the court awarded the aggrieved women $16,967 in actual damages and $49,185 in punitive damages. Additionally, the District Court imposed a civil money penalty of $40,000 against Koch.
Debarment is intended to assure HUD that a participant in its programs who has acted irresponsibly is disqualified from continued participation. HUD's Departmental Enforcement Center found that this judgment was sufficient grounds to debar Koch from doing business with the Federal government.
HUD's brief in support of Koch's debarment contends that he used tenancies partly financed by Federal payments to take advantage of low-income women, and the Department could not be assured that "its funds are being spent properly or that the public is being adequately protected."
"HUD will not tolerate landlords who prey on women, especially landlords who receive federal subsidies," said Stephen Hollingshead, who is the Senior Advisor to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement. "This debarment sends a clear message to all landlords that we will take action against anyone who engages in this type of illegal and offensive conduct."
HUD's Enforcement Center works to bring individuals and entities that own HUD properties into compliance with Departmental rules and regulations. In instances where owners fail to bring properties up to HUD standards, and where physical and financial deficiencies exist, the Enforcement Center can impose administrative sanctions, such as civil money penalties, debarments, and suspensions.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal and Opportunity 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 1 (800) 669-9777 (voice). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.