FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1999(202) 353-8584
XENIA, OHIO, APARTMENT OWNERS SUED
FOR ENGAGING IN RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The owners and managers of an apartment complex in Xenia, Ohio, were sued today for engaging in a pattern of discrimination against African American apartment seekers, the Justice Department announced.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio, alleges that the Roger Matusoff Rental Company, Roger Matusoff, Rebecca McCord, Peggy Penwell and Lonnie Penwell violated the Fair Housing Act by denying apartments to African Americans because of their race. Matusoff Rental Companies owns three apartment complexes in Ohio, including the 72 unit Villa de Marquis in Xenia, which is the subject of this lawsuit. McCord and the Penwells are employees of the company who helped carry out the discrimination.
This kind of blatant discrimination on the basis of race has no place anywhere in our country," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Denying people apartments based on their skin color is not only illegal, it's just plain wrong. The Justice Department will vigorously pursue those who engage in such unlawful housing practices.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) referred this case to the Justice Department in October 1999. The Justice Department's complaint alleges that defendants instructed employees to mark all applications from African Americans so that defendants would know the race of their applicants. The complaint alleges that defendants used this information to deny apartments to African Americans.
In addition to a request for an order requiring the defendants to stop engaging in unlawful conduct, the Department's complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages for victims of the defendants' allegedly unlawful conduct and payment of a civil penalty.
Persons who believe they may have been the victims of discrimination at any of the defendants' properties may call 1-800-896-7743.