FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF DISCRIMINATION CASE
AGAINST FLORIDA ENVOY APARTMENTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced the settlement of a housing discrimination case against Envoy Apartments Association, Inc., management company a 29-unit condominium building located at 455 Golden Isle Drive in Hallandale, Florida.
The complaint, filed in November 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, arose out of a complaint lodged by Edward Dresner, a man with physical and mental disabilities. The complaint alleges that Mr. Dresner attempted to purchase a unit at Envoy Apartments, but the condominium association subjected him to a more rigorous application process that it did not use with non-disabled applicants. The association ultimately rejected Mr. Dresner’s application.
“Federal law protects the rights of persons with physical and mental disabilities to enjoy access to housing without discrimination on the basis of their disabilities,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
“HUD and the Justice Department are committed to enforcing those laws that protect the rights of persons with disabilities,” said Carolyn Peoples, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “With 52.6 million Americans living with some type of physical disability, it is imperative that we ensure that they have access to the kind of housing that meets their needs, free from discrimination.”
Under the consent decree, which needs to be approved by the court, the defendant has agreed to pay $90,000 in damages and attorney’s fees to Mr. Dresner. Additionally, the decree requires Envoy Apartments Association, Inc., not to discriminate on the basis of disability and to conduct background investigations of potential buyers in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner. The defendant has also agreed to three years of monitoring by the Justice Department.
Mr. Dresner filed a fair housing complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After investigating the matter, HUD issued a charge of discrimination, and the United States Attorney’s Office filed the lawsuit and negotiated the consent decree.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status (having children under 18 years old), national origin and disability. Since January 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 107 Fair Housing Act cases, including 42 based on disability.
Anyone who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in housing should call the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743 or (202) 514-4713, or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
Additional information about the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is available on the Justice Department’s website at <http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing>.