The Justice Department today announced a settlement of its lawsuit alleging that Highland Management Group Inc., Edina Park Apartments LLC, and Amy Koch violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating against Somali prospective renters at Edina Park Apartments in Edina, Minn. a suburb of Minneapolis. After filing the complaint earlier today, the department submitted the settlement to U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Nelson, in the form of a proposed consent decree.
The case originated based on evidence generated by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as prospective renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The testing uncovered evidence that Amy Koch, who was the then property manager at Edina Park Apartments, showed white testers apartments when they walked in while she told Somali testers they had to make an appointment to see an apartment the next day. She also failed to tell Somali testers about certain apartments becoming available that she mentioned to white testers. Amy Koch was an employee of Highland Management Group, Inc.
“Treating people differently because of their race or national origin when they are looking for a place to live is a fundamental affront to American values,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels. “This settlement demonstrates that the Civil Rights Division Housing Testing Program is an important tool in combating discrimination.”
Under the settlement, Highland Management Group Inc. and Edina Park Apartments must pay $30,000 to the government as a civil penalty. The settlement also requires Highland Management Group, Inc. and Edina Park Apartments to maintain a nondiscrimination policy, provide employees with training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and provide periodic reports to the government.
U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said, “Everyone has the right to expect equal treatment under the law when searching for housing. The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will work tirelessly to ensure that all people are treated fairly when attempting to secure housing for themselves and their families. It is what the good citizens of Minnesota expect and deserve.”
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743) or email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.