FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES RACE DISCRIMINATION
LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF MT. PLEASANT, TENNESSEE
AND SOUTH CENTRAL TENNESSEE DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice today announced a settlement agreement with the City of Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee and the South Central Tennessee Development District regarding a lawsuit that alleged violations of the federal Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit alleged that the defendants racially discriminated against Roslyn Baker, an African-American participant in the HOME program, by refusing to approve the same repairs to her home that were approved for white participants in the program, providing home repairs that did not bring her home up to code, authorizing more extensive and more costly home repairs only for white participants, and offering replacement homes only to white participants.
"Over 400,000 newly constructed or rehabilitated housing units have been made available to low-income individuals and families since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development established the HOME program in 1990. The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that HOME program assistance is provided to all regardless of their race or color," said Assistant Attorney General Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
The consent order, approved and entered today by the U.S. District Court in Nashville, requires defendants to provide Mrs. Baker with compensatory damages, and construct a four-bedroom replacement home for her as provided by the HOME program's guidelines.
"In the United States, every individual has the right to obtain housing, without discrimination on the basis of their race or color," said James K. Vines, U.S. Attorney in Nashville. "Housing providers in Central Tennessee are on notice that anyone who violates this principle will be subject to the sanctions which the United States can bring to bear," added Vines.
The HOME program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by local agencies, brings homes of low-income homeowners into compliance with local housing codes or provides low-income homeowners with replacement housing.
The administrative complaint was originally filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD referred the complaint to the Justice Department after the investigation determined there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred.
Individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination should contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov and the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.