WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against a Charleston, S.C.-area landlord for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, charges that John Wingard Altman, through published advertisements and statements to testers, maintains a policy or practice of discouraging families with children from living in the apartment complex he owns, located at 1211 Central Avenue, in Summerville, S.C. The allegations are based on evidence generated by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.
“Housing discrimination against families with children has been illegal for more than 20 years, but it remains a persistent problem,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of fair housing laws that protect the rights of families with children.”
“Housing is one of those fundamental needs and we simply will not tolerate unlawful discrimination in any form,” said William M. Nettles, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendant, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendant’s actions and a civil penalty.
Individuals who may have information related to this lawsuit should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox number 9998, or e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org . The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt .
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.