WASHINGTON - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against C.F. Enterprises, LLC and its on-site manager, Don Murroni, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against African-Americans in the rental of units at College Square Apartments in Davie, Fla. The lawsuit is based on evidence generated by Operation Home Sweet Home--an ongoing initiative designed to identify and root-out housing discrimination through the Department’s Fair Housing Testing Program.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges that the defendants falsely told African-Americans that no apartments were available, discouraged African-Americans from applying, and offered to waive the application fee or other costs only for white applicants. Evidence was gathered through the Department’s fair housing testing, where individuals posed as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The property manager allegedly told white testers that a selling point of College Square Apartments was the absence of black tenants. The lawsuit seeks an injunction against further discrimination, money damages for victims and civil penalties to be paid to the United States.
"Operation Home Sweet Home targets subtle as well as blatant forms of discrimination," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "No person should be prevented from living where he or she chooses because of race or color."
"Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of one’s race and color," said R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the District of Florida. "Today’s case sheds light on still-existing illegal rental practices in our community, and confirms our resolve to make housing equally available to all."
In February 2006, former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced Operation Home Sweet Home, a concentrated initiative to expose and eliminate housing discrimination in America. This initiative was inspired by the plight of displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina who were suddenly forced to find new places to live. Operation Home Sweet Home is not limited to the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina and targets housing discrimination all over the country.
Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Civil Rights Division has filed 258 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 74 of which have alleged discrimination based on race or color. More information about the Civil Rights Division and Operation Home Sweet Home is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.
People who believe that they or someone they know experienced housing discrimination at College Square Apartments should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, mail box number 992, or the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 305-961-9327.