The U.S. Department of Justice has settled a lawsuit against two rental properties in Georgia that the DOJ claimed discriminated against Black elderly or disability applicants, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to protect Americans from the racially motivated violence and discrimination that has stained our nation’s history. More than five decades later, our nation regrettably continues to suffer the scourge of racial bias,” said assistant attorney general Eric Dreiband of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Americans to rent and own their homes without regard to their race.”
Filed in May 2020, the lawsuit alleges that from at least 2012 to 2018, the two rental companies steered African-American housing applicants who are elderly or have a disability away from Cedarwood Village, a predominantly white housing complex, to Cedartown Commons, a predominantly Black housing complex. Cedartown Commons is inferior in appearance, location and amenities to Cedarwood Village.
Both complexes are located in Cedartown, Georgia, which is about 50 miles from Atlanta.
The lawsuit was filed against Crimson Management LLC, Benefield Housing Partnership d/b/a Cedartown Commons, and Cedartown Housing Associates d/b/a Cedarwood Village.
The complaint also alleged that the defendants subjected African-American residents who are elderly or have a disability to less-favorable rental terms, conditions and privileges as compared to similarly situated white tenants, and denied these African-American applicants more desirable units at the Village, Coosa Valley News reported.
Under the settlement, which was jointly litigated by attorneys of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the defendants are required to pay $83,000 in damages to three former tenants who were allegedly harmed due to the defendants’ racial steering; pay a civil penalty to the government; implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures; complete fair-housing training; and submit periodic reports to the Justice Department, according to a news release from the DOJ.