FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES CITY OF BLAKELY AND HOUSING AUTHORITY FOR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSING TENANTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a complaint against the city of Blakely, Georgia, the Blakely Housing Authority, and Dan Cooper, the Housing Authority Executive Director. The complaint alleges that they discriminated on the basis of race against African-American public housing applicants and tenants.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Albany, Georgia alleges that the Housing Authority maintained racially segregated housing and harassed African-American tenants. The Justice Department complaint alleges that the Housing Authority, which manages five housing complexes in Blakely, has kept one of the complexes, Cedar Hill Homes II, exclusively for white tenants.
The complaint also alleges that in 1964, the Housing Authority built the Cedar Hill Homes II public housing complex, with all of its 14 apartment units and officially designated it for white tenants. After passage of the federal Fair Housing Act in 1968, prohibiting race discrimination in housing, the Housing Authority failed to change its assignment practices and continued to refuse to rent apartments in Cedar Hill Homes II to African-Americans
In other public housing complexes, the Housing Authority rented to African-American tenants on less favorable terms than white tenants; failed to protect African-American tenants from racial harassment; and retaliated against those African-American tenants who exercised their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
"In this day and age, no African-American father or mother should have to explain to their child that their family cannot live in a particular apartment complex because it has been officially designated ‘for whites only,'" said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We will not permit the exclusion of families from public housing on the basis of race."
Frank Maxwell Wood, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia added, "We are determined to bring legal action wherever necessary against any illegal housing discrimination."
According to the complaint, in order to maintain the discriminatory policy, the Housing Authority advanced white applicants for public housing over black applicants on the waiting list, and placed white applicants in vacant apartments in Cedar Hill Homes II, even where African-American tenants were higher on the waiting list.
The mayor of the city of Blakely appoints and removes commissioners of the Housing Authority. The complaint alleges that tenants complained to the city of Blakely, the Housing Authority, and to Cooper about the racial harassment and segregation but no corrective action was taken. The lawsuit seeks an injunction against future discrimination, monetary damages to compensate victims, and a civil penalty.
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of, or have any information about, discrimination at any of the five Blakely Housing Authority public housing complexes should call the Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, at 1-800-111-0098.