Louisiana PHA to Pay $120K to Settle Discrimination Claims

The Justice Department recently announced that the Bossier City, La., Housing Authority (BCHA) has agreed to pay $120,000 and adopt new policies to settle a lawsuit alleging discrimination based on race and disability under fair housing law.

The complaint alleged that from 2007 to 2014, BCHA assigned elderly residents to housing on the basis of race, rather than by their place on the waiting list, and restricted residents with disabilities primarily to one of its seven apartment complexes. Allegedly, white elderly residents were assigned to one of two complexes that were reserved for elderly persons, but African-American elderly residents were assigned to one of its other five complexes, all of which were at least 90 percent African American. The complaint also alleged that BCHA primarily assigned residents with disabilities to one complex and didn’t consider them for vacancies at BCHA’s six other properties.

Under the settlement, BCHA agreed to pay $120,000 to compensate individuals who were allegedly passed over on the waiting list or otherwise denied the right to move into the apartment of their choice because of race or disability. The BCHA also agreed to implement non-discriminatory policies and procedures to ensure that its housing units are made available for rent based on an applicant’s position on its waiting list, regardless of race or disability.

“Denying housing or dictating where someone can live based on their race or disability perpetuates residential segregation and violates federal law,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “This settlement ensures equal access to federally subsidized housing in Bossier City, and the department will continue to confront discriminatory policies or practices in the housing market throughout the country.”