FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2000(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
ALAMANCE COUNTY MOBILE HOME PARK SETTLES
ALLEGATIONS OF HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The owners of a mobile home park located in North Carolina today agreed to pay more than $60,000 in damages and civil penalties for allegedly refusing to sell mobile homes and rent mobile home lots to African Americans, the Justice Department announced.
In a complaint, filed together with the agreement in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, the Justice Department alleged that Sleepy Hollow Estates, Inc., located in Alamance County, and Jessie Roberts, a stockholder in the corporation and the former manager of the park, violated the Fair Houseing Act. It asserts that they violated the law by falsely telling African Americans that homes were not available and by making explicit statements that they had a policy of limiting the number of African-American residents of the park.
"It is unfortunate that we find this kind of blatant discrimination more than 30 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, " said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee. "Today's actions should warn all housing providers that the Justice Department has zero tolerance for housing discrimination. We will continue to ensure that this law is enforced across the country."
The suit is the 60th case brought under the Justice Department's nationwide fair housing testing which is designed to detect illegal discrimination. It is the first testing case brought by the Justice Department in North Carolina.
Under the testing program, trained pairs of minority and white testers pose as prospective tenants and inquire about the availability of homes. By comparing the experiences of the testers, investigators determine whether minorities are treated less favorably than whites.
The Justice Department's investigation of Sleepy Hollow Estates revealed that Roberts told black testers that homes were not available, while telling white testers that homes were available. It also revealed that Roberts made several statements to white testers indicating that she had a policy of limiting the number of African Americans in the park, including telling one white tester that she would rather wait until another white person came in than rent a particular lot to an African American.
When confronted with the evidence from the Justice Department's investigation, the owners of the park took steps to insure that homes would be available to all qualified purchasers, regardless of their race.
"This case demonstrates the vital role that fair housing testing plays in fighting discrimination that would otherwise limit housing choices available to minorities," added Lee. "The agreement will insure that in the future no one will be turned away from Sleepy Hollow Estates because of the color of their skin."
Under the agreement, which still must be approved by the Court, the mobile home park, with approxiamately 100 mobile home lots, will:
- pay $37,500 into a settlement fund to compensate any identified victims;
- pay $25,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury;
- train all employees about their obligations under the Fair Housing Act;
- publicize their non-discrimination policy; and,
- submit to monitoring by the Justice Department to ensure future compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
"To deny a person a home because of their race is to deny that person a share of the American dream," said Walter C. Holton, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. "This case demonstrates the importance of vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act."
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of housing discrimination at Sleepy Hollow Estates should call the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department at (800) 896-7743.