FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2000(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND CHICAGO LANDLORD
RESOLVE RACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Chicago landlord and his wife will pay $30,000 in compensation, receive training, and consent to three years of Justice Department monitoring to resolve allegations that they discriminated against black tenants, according to a agreement reached today with the Justice Department.
In a lawsuit filed in June in U. S. District Court in Northern District of Illinois, the Justice Department accused Sinforiano Ojeda and his wife Adela of violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against black tenants at the 42 unit apartment building they own. The building is located at 7222 North Damen Avenue in the Rogers Park area of Chicago, Illinois.
"We will not hesitate to use the full force of the law to prosecute landlords, large or small, who treat tenants differently because of their race," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "This case demonstrates that, working together with private citizens and community organizations, we can help make fair housing a reality in every neighborhood."
In the agreement approved today by the court, the Ojedas will pay $30,000 in damages and attorney's fees to the three individuals who filed the complaints and the Leadership Council. The settlement also requires the Ojedas to adopt and publicize a nondiscrimination policy, to receive fair housing training for themselves and their employees, and to follow strict procedures in advertising and filling vacancies. The Ojedas will submit periodic reports to the Justice Department and the Leadership Council to ensure compliance with the agreement.
The case originated when three African-Americans were evicted from the property, and a fair housing organization filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on their behalf. The Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities ("Leadership Council") conducted a fair housing test in which a white person and a black person were sent to the property, posing as prospective tenants.
Mr. Ojeda told the white tester there were too many black people living in the building, according to the report prepared by the tester. HUD investigated and found evidence that Mr. Ojeda made similar statements to tenants, and that had evicted many of the building's black tenants soon after he and his wife bought the property in 1997. HUD found reasonable cause to believe the Ojedas had violated the Fair Housing Act for race based discrimination. After three of the complainants exercised their right to have the matter resolved in federal court, HUD referred the case to the Justice Department for prosecution.