HUD No. 08-153
October 7, 2008
HUD CHARGES ALABAMA LANDLORDS WITH DISCRIMINATION
Couple forced to move after visit from black neighbors
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it has charged two Tallassee, Alabama landlords with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly forcing white tenants to move out of their house after the owners saw the couple talking with black neighbors in their front yard.
In February 2008, Melissa Jones, her fianc�, and their child moved into a property owned by Wilber and Julie Williams." While Jones' African-American neighbors were visiting with her in the front yard, the Williamses drove by and witnessed the gathering. "Later that day, Ms. Williams called Ms. Jones and allegedly said, "Those people need to leave. "I don't want those people on my property." According to the HUD charge, Ms. Williams intimidated and coerced Ms. Jones during another phone call.
"It is astounding that 40 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act there are still people who would try to police people's associations," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity." "Such actions are not only offensive, they violate federal law. " It is unconscionable for a landlord to force people out of their home because of the race of persons with whom they associate. " That's not what America stands for in 2008, and HUD will swiftly and vigorously enforce the law against such discrimination."
The HUD charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless a party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court." "If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to each complainant for actual loss as a result of the discrimination, as well as damages for emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of civil rights. The judge may also order injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. "In addition to damages payable to the complainant, the judge may impose a civil penalty in order to vindicate the public interest. "In the event of an election, a federal district court judge may also award punitive damages to a prevailing complainant.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,000 housing complaints annually. " People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (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.