| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
May 10, 2004
| CRT |
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES CHICAGO APARTMENT OWNERS FOR DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it has filed two lawsuits against the owners of rental units on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois, alleging discrimination against families with children who were seeking housing.
The complaints, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, were brought against the owners of five- and six-unit apartment buildings. The first complaint, filed on May 5, alleges that Demetra Vlahakis, the owner and manager of 8514 West Rascher, instructed two tenants who were trying to sublease their apartment unit that any new tenant moving into their unit should have "no children or teenagers."
Further, the complaint alleges that defendant refused to meet with one applicant because that applicant had two children and specifically told another applicant who had a teenager that the defendant had "too many problems with teenagers" and the defendant did not feel comfortable renting to them. The complaint alleges that the defendant told the applicant who had the teenager that, if the applicant did rent the apartment, the applicant and the applicantç´ teenager would be evicted immediately if there were any problems.
The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the defendant from engaging in unlawful housing discrimination, monetary damages for victims, and payment of a civil penalty to the government.
The second complaint, filed today, alleges that Jean Chlypniacz, the owner of 6353-6355 West School Street, refused to rent an apartment to a married couple because they had three young children. This suit seeks an injunction prohibiting further discrimination and monetary compensation for the family that was denied housing.
"Individuals should not be denied housing or discouraged from obtaining housing because of their familial status," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Departmentç´ Civil Rights Division. "No landlord can deny housing to an individual simply because the individual is the parent of a young child or a teenager. The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act where there is housing discrimination based on familial status."
"HUD and the Justice Department continue to aggressively protect the right of families with children to choose where they want to live," said Carolyn Peoples, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "No family, simply because of its composition, should be subjected to a different standard when looking for a place to call home."
The families who were denied housing in both cases filed fair housing complaints with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After investigating the matters, HUD issued Charges of Discrimination and referred the matters to the Justice Department.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since January 21, 2001, the Justice Departmentç´ Civil Rights Division has filed 119 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, including 29 based on familial status discrimination.
Individuals who believe that they have been the victim of unlawful housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or the Justice Departmentç´ Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743. Additional information about the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt