WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that the Housing Authority for the city of Royston, Ga., (RHA) has agreed to pay up to $270,000 to resolve allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminating against applicants for housing and tenants based on race. The RHA is a public housing authority that provides housing for persons of low income in Hart County and Franklin County, Ga. Currently the RHA owns and maintains seven housing complexes in Royston.
The settlement was filed today in the U.S. District Court in Athens, Ga., in conjunction with a complaint made by the Justice Department under the Fair Housing Act. The complaint alleges that the RHA maintained racially segregated housing by steering and assigning applicants to vacant units based on race, rather than in order of their placement on the RHA’s waiting list. The complaint also alleges that the RHA subjected African-American tenants to inferior terms and conditions of rental.
"Everyone, including those who seek public assistance, has the right to access housing free from racial discrimination," 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."
"Racial discrimination is both wrong and illegal, and is especially invidious when conducted by an agency acting in a quasi-governmental capacity," said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, G.F. Peterman, III. "This case is important both to those injured by these actions and as an example that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, acting with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will diligently pursue appropriate remedies when such discrimination is found to exist."
Upon court approval, the settlement, which is in the form of a consent decree, will require the RHA to implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act and to ensure that RHA 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 decree also requires that if RHA builds additional units, they are to be located in areas that do not further racial segregation. The RHA 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 RHA will establish a $270,000 fund to compensate individuals who suffered damages as a result of the RHA's conduct. The RHA will develop a process to allow tenants who were assigned to complex on a discriminatory basis to request a transfer to another complex if they desire.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.