The Department announced an agreement with the owners, a manager and a former manager of Cottage Manor Apartments in Lakewood, N.J., to settle allegations of discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin and race. Under the settlement, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, the defendants must pay a total of $170,000 to identified victims of discrimination and an additional $30,000 to the government as a civil penalty.
The lawsuit originated from charges filed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of current and former tenants of Cottage Manor Apartments. The complaint alleges that the apartment owners of Cottage Manor Apartments, Triple H. Realty LLC, its principal manager Harry Kantor and former managing agent Vincent Ortiz, violated the Fair Housing Act when they discriminated against Hispanic and African American tenants.
The defendants transferred or attempted to transfer Hispanic and African American tenants from their apartments located in its most desirable building to make room for Orthodox Jews whom they courted as new tenants from 2002 to 2004. The defendants then assigned the non-Jewish tenants to less desirable apartments in the rear of the property, which had fewer amenities and were less well maintained than the most desirable building at the front of the property. The defendants charged the incoming Jewish tenants less rent than they did to non-Jewish tenants for apartments of similar size.
"Segregating tenants and providing discounted rents based upon religion, national origin or race, is degrading and discriminatory," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will vigorously pursue such discrimination."
"Federal law has long made it illegal to favor or steer anyone to housing based on race, national origin or religion," said Bryan Greene, HUD's General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This month commemorates the 41st anniversary of the Federal Fair Housing Act and for as many years, HUD and the Justice Department have worked hand in hand to eliminate discriminatory housing practices and recover relief for those harmed."
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. 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.usdoj.gov/crt. Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination may 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. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing or www.hud.gov/fairhousing.