HUD No. 07-174
November 29, 2007
HUD CHARGES ALABAMA LANDLORD WITH VIOLATING FAIR HOUSING ACT
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Neysa C. Crim of Decatur, Alabama, with violating the federal Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent her home to an African-American man, making unlawful and discriminatory statements and falsely representing that a house was unavailable to rent.
Owner allegedly refused to rent home to an African-American man
According to HUD's investigation, Jimmy Lewis Crump responded to an advertisement for a two-bedroom home on East Moulton Street and left several messages for the landlord. After telling his white supervisor about the situation, she offered to call on his behalf, and as she was leaving a message, Crim answered the phone and identified herself as the owner. The supervisor explained that she was inquiring about the rental property on behalf of a friend. Crim allegedly asked, "What color is he?" Crim also allegedly asked the supervisor whether her friend was "black or white."
When the supervisor told the owner that it was against the law to ask such a question, Crim allegedly said she could ask it and that she did not want to rent to an African-American because she did not want her neighbors damaging her property because she rented to a black person.
"It's unbelievable that in 2007, almost 40 years after the Fair Housing Act was enacted, this woman would deny someone a place to live just because of his race," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "When it comes to renting a property, a landlord should be concerned with the applicant's character, the ability to pay and whether the applicant will be good neighbor, not the color of his skin."
Unless one of the parties elects to have the case heard in U.S. District Court, the hearing on the charge will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on February 5, 2008, in Decatur, Alabama. 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.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,000 housing discrimination complaints a year. People who believe they may be 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.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.