WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the owner of College Square Apartments, in Davie, Fla., to settle allegations of discrimination against African Americans. Under the consent decree, approved today in U.S. District Court in Miami, the defendants must pay a total of up to $140,000 to victims of discrimination and a civil penalty of $74,000 to the government.
The lawsuit, filed in August 2008 and later amended, alleged that the property manager at the time, Don Murroni, acting under the direction of Craig Forman, the president and sole shareholder of C.F. Enterprises, falsely told African Americans that no apartments were available and discouraged African Americans from applying. Murroni also allegedly offered to waive the application fee or other costs for white applicants, and told white testers that a selling point of College Square Apartments was the absence of black tenants. The allegations were based on evidence obtained through the Department’s fair housing testing unit, where individuals present as potential renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. Today’s settlement resolves the government’s claims against C.F. Enterprises and Craig Forman.
"This type of housing discrimination undercuts decades of progress in our nation’s efforts to ensure equal rights for all Americans. The fair housing testing program enables the Justice Department to aggressively root out blatant discrimination. Housing providers who break fair housing laws should view this case as a reminder that they will be sued," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
"Eradicating such discriminatory practices from the South Florida area is of the utmost importance. They are a scourge on our community, and will not be tolerated," said Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffery H. Sloman for the Southern District of Florida.
The settlement requires C.F. Enterprises and Forman to implement and publicize a nondiscrimination policy and provide periodic reports to the Justice Department. It also requires these defendants and their employees to undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination at College Square Apartments should call the Department at 1-800-896-7743 extension 992.
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, email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.