FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES SAN FRANCISCO HOUSING AUTHORITY FOR TOLERATING RACIAL AND ETHNIC HARASSMENT IN PUBLIC HOUSING
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced that it has filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against the San Francisco Housing Authority, alleging a pattern or practice of discrimination against public housing residents on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion. The San Francisco Housing Authority owns and operates public housing in the city and county of San Francisco, California.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court, alleges that the San Francisco Housing Authority violated the federal Fair Housing Act by knowingly tolerating harassment of public housing residents on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that residents of public housing in San Francisco have been victims of racial, ethnic, and religious harassment including verbal abuse, racial slurs, threats, assaults, vandalism, and robbery. In addition, the complaint alleges that the Housing Authority had knowledge of harassment incidents, but failed to take reasonable steps to protect its tenants from this harassment, as required by law.
The complaint identifies some of the victims of the harassment as white, African American, Iraqi, Asian, and Hispanic public housing residents, as well as residents of the Muslim faith. The harassment of residents of Iraqi descent and Muslim faith increased following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Ralph F. Boyd, Jr. said, "The events of September 11th should serve as a reminder of our duty to protect the rights of the individual regardless of race, national origin, or religion. A landlord who remains idle in the face of known racial or ethnic harassment among its tenants is in violation of the law."
The federal investigation that gave rise to this lawsuit arose from two residents filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging repeated racial harassment and intimidation. HUD investigated the matter, issued a charge of discrimination against the San Francisco Housing Authority on behalf of the two residents, and referred the matter to the Justice Department for litigation.
"Today's action furthers our efforts to fight housing discrimination wherever we find it throughout the country," said Floyd O. May, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing. "HUD will not stand for any illegal treatment based on a person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status or disability."
The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the San Francisco Housing Authority from engaging in unlawful housing discrimination at its public housing developments. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages for victims, as well as civil penalties.
Individuals who believe they have been victims of discrimination at the San Francisco Housing Authority should call the Justice Department's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 800-896-7743. For more information about the Civil Rights Division, please visit the website at www.usdoj.gov/crt.