FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 1996                            (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A rental management company in Mobile,
Alabama that allegedly discouraged African Americans from living in
its apartment units will pay a record $1.8 million in damages under
an agreement reached today with the Justice Department.

     In a lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court in Mobile
together with the agreement, the Justice Department alleged that
Mitchell Brothers, Inc. repeatedly violated the federal Fair
Housing Act by intentionally discriminating against African
Americans seeking to rent apartments.  

     Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick
said today's settlement is the largest ever obtained by the Justice
Department in a housing discrimination case based on race.

     The suit asserted that the rental company and its employees
maintained policies designed to exclude African Americans, by:

    routinely telling African Americans that no apartments were
     available even though they were;

    coding rental applications and other forms with racial
     identifiers so rental agents did not offer apartments to
     African Americans interested in living in their properties;
    attempting to identify callers by race so that they could
     withhold rental opportunities from those callers they believed
     to be African American;

    instructing rental agents to encourage white prospective
     tenants to rent there, but to treat prospective African
     Americans tenants with indifference; and,

    treating the few African Americans who were allowed to live
     there less favorably than white tenants and steering those
     African American tenants toward designated apartments.

     Under the settlement, Mitchell Brothers, Inc. has agreed to no
longer discriminate against African Americans, notify the public
about its new nondiscriminatory rental policies, report regularly
to the Justice Department, create a $1.725 million fund to
compensate any identified victims and help establish a fair housing
organization in Mobile, and pay $75,000 in civil penal-ties to the
U.S. treasury.      

     "We are pleased with today's agreement because it will fully
compensate all the victims of the discriminatory practices," said
Patrick.  "The fair housing group that the company will help
establish will advance the cause of fair housing in Mobile for many
years to come."

     Patrick noted that while there are private fair housing groups
in many metropolitan areas across the country, there are presently
none in Mobile.  Under today's agreement, Mitchell Brothers, Inc.
will set aside at least $250,000 to help establish a group that can
educate the Mobile community about fair housing laws and ensure
that housing providers comply with those laws.

     Today's settlement, which must still be approved by the court,
also resolves a similar suit filed in 1995 by seventeen African
Americans who unsuccessfully sought housing at the Mitchell
Brothers rental properties.

     The properties involved in this settlement include Maison de
Ville and Maison Imperial Apartments, Plantation Apartments,
Ashford Place Apartments, Pointe West Apartments, Lafayette Square
Apartments, Pine Bend Apartments, Hampton Park Apartments, Belair

     African Americans who resided or were deterred from applying
for residence at any of these properties should call the Housing
Section of the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743.  Individuals
who believe they may have been victims of housing discrimination
anywhere else in the United States should call either the Justice
Department or the Department of Housing and Urban Development's
Fair Housing Hotline at 1-800-669-9777.
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