Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 26, 2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOV
CRT
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Justice Department Sues Owner and Manager of Virginia Beach Apartment Complex for Race and Familial Status Discrimination

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against Dr. John Crockett Henry and Henry LLP of Virginia Beach, Va., alleging that Crockett and his company discriminated against black tenants and families with children at the 15½ Street Apartments in Virginia Beach. The defendants rent apartments at the 30-unit complex to tenants who participate in the federally subsidized Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Department‘s complaint, filed in federal district court in Norfolk, alleges that the defendants discriminated against black tenants by imposing different terms and conditions on their tenancies because of their race, including restrictive rules and regulations prohibiting visits by guests of black residents. It is further alleged that Dr. Henry verbally harassed black tenants with racial slurs and epithets, entered their homes without cause or notice, made statements indicating discrimination against black tenants, improperly restricted their use of public areas of the complex, and retaliated against black tenants by threatening evictions. In addition to discrimination against black tenants, the complaint alleges that the defendants refused to rent apartments to families with more than two children, in further violation of the Fair Housing Act. “All Americans should be able to house their families free from discrimination,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This case exemplifies the Justice Department‘s commitment to ensure that landlords comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.” This case arose from complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development by five black tenants of the complex who claim that Dr. Henry discriminated against them on the basis of race. The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, civil penalties, mandatory Fair Housing Act training, and a court order barring future discrimination. Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. In February 2006, 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 across the country. More information about Operation Home Sweet Home is available at the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination may call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, send an e-mail to fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department‘s Civil Rights Division has filed 223 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act. For more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it governs, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.

###

07-547