WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement in the first lawsuit ever filed by the Department alleging discrimination against Asian-American victims based upon its fair housing testing program. Under the consent decree filed today in federal court in Boston, defendant Pine Properties Inc. and six affiliated entities will pay up to $158,000 in monetary relief to victims and the United States.
The Department’s complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating based on national origin against Cambodian-Americans seeking to rent apartments. Defendants subjected Cambodian-American apartment seekers to requirements not imposed on white apartment seekers and refused to show available apartments to Cambodian-American apartment seekers because they did not have a separate appointment, while at the same time taking white persons to see available dwellings immediately, with no prior appointment. Defendants own and operate 13 rental properties in Lowell, Mass.
This case resulted from Operation Home Sweet Home, the Attorney General’s initiative to expose housing discrimination in America. In fiscal year 2007, the Department conducted a record number of undercover housing discrimination investigations, nearly double the number of the prior year. More information about Operation Home Sweet Home is available at the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing.
“The Fair Housing Act protects individuals of every national origin–including Asian-Americans,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement is an example of the success Operation Home Sweet Home is having in pro-actively uncovering housing discrimination.”
Under the consent decree, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court in Boston, the defendants will pay up to $114,000 to compensate victims, pay a $44,000 civil penalty to the U.S. government, establish and follow non-discriminatory tenancy procedures, undergo fair housing training, and file reports with the government.
Individuals who believe they may have been injured by the defendants’ discrimination at Pine Properties should call the Department’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743, ext. 95, or send an email to email@example.com.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 242 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 22 of which have alleged discrimination based on national origin. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.