N.J. Owners Settle Claim Alleging Discrimination Against African Americans
The owners of two New Jersey apartment buildings recently agreed to pay $21,000 to resolve allegations of housing discrimination against African-American prospects.
Earlier this year, HUD charged one of the buildings’ owners with violating fair housing law by refusing to show apartments to or return the calls of a prospective tenant after learning that he’s African American. HUD alleged that the man contacted the owner to inquire about an apartment for rent, and that the owner made an appointment to show him the unit. Allegedly, the owner confirmed the appointment minutes before, but then failed to keep the appointment after learning the man’s race.
Believing that he had been the victim of illegal discrimination, the man contacted a fair housing organization, which conducted four paired tests using a white tester and a black tester in each test. During the tests, HUD alleged, the owner refused to show up for appointments and return calls after he learned that a tester was African American; he allegedly would drive by or arrive for apartment-viewing appointments early in order to discover a prospective renter’s race.
Under the settlement, the owners agreed to pay $10,000 to the prospect, $5,000 to the fair housing organization, and a $6,000 civil penalty. The settlement also requires the owners and their employees to complete fair housing training and implement a nondiscrimination policy.
“Fair housing testing—where people of different backgrounds pose as applicants for housing—remains our most effective tool for exposing illegal housing discrimination that still too often occurs in this country,” Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD will continue to take enforcement action against individuals and housing providers who violate the Fair Housing Act.”