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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Eastman, Georgia, Public Housing Authority Regarding Race Discrimination in Housing Practices

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that the Housing Authority for the city of Eastman, Ga., (EHA) has agreed to pay up to $320,000 to resolve allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminating against applicants for housing and tenants based on race. The EHA is a public housing authority that provides housing for persons of low income in Dodge County, Ga. The EHA owns and maintains eight housing complexes in the city of Eastman and the neighboring town of Rhine, Ga.

The settlement was filed today in the U.S. District Court in Dublin, Ga., in conjunction with a complaint made by the Justice Department under the Fair Housing Act. The complaint alleges that the EHA maintained racially segregated housing by assigning applicants to vacant units based on race, rather than in order of their placement on the EHA’s waiting list. The complaint also alleges that the EHA subjected African-American tenants to inferior terms and conditions of rental.

"Our nation’s laws have long prohibited housing discrimination based on race. Individuals who seek public housing assistance have the right to know that they will not be treated to in a discriminatory fashion when they do so," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "The department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act."

"Every citizen’s fundamental right to access to fair housing is one of the cornerstones of American society" said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Edward J. Tarver.  "Public housing officials must ensure that all citizens are treated in a fair and equitable manner without regard to race or any other prohibited factor."

Upon court approval, the settlement, which is in the form of a consent decree, will require the EHA to implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act and to ensure that EHA housing units are made available for rent on an equal basis and on the same terms and conditions for all persons, irrespective of race. The EHA will also provide training to employees responsible for making housing decisions on the nondiscriminatory policies and procedures, the consent decree, and the Fair Housing Act.

In addition, the EHA will establish a $320,000 fund to compensate individuals who suffered damages as a result of the EHA’s conduct.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt . Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.

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