FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
HENRY K. VERNON d/b/a
MONTEREY MANOR APARTMENTS
and ANITA SCHIKORE
The United States of America alleges:
- The United States brings this action to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
- Defendant Henry K. Vernon is a resident of the District of New Mexico and is the owner of Monterey Manor Apartments ("Monterey Manor"), a 49-unit apartment complex located at 12201 Lomas Boulevard, NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Defendant Anita Schikore is the manager of Monterey Manor. She has responsibility for, inter alia, renting apartment units there. She has been manager at Monterey Manor at all times relevant herein.
- The apartment units at Monterey Manor are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
- The United States, through its Department of Justice, has investigated the rental policies and practices followed at Monterey Manor. In September and October 1997, as part of this investigation, the United States conducted a series of "tests" designed to compare the information, services and treatment afforded by defendants to different types of prospective renters. Testers are persons who, without intending to rent an apartment, gather information about rental housing in order to help determine whether a housing provider is engaging in discriminatory practices.
- On each of four separate occasions during the course of the United States' investigation, defendant Anita Schikore told a white tester visiting Monterey Manor that a one-bedroom apartment was available to rent either immediately or within the next few days, after first telling an African American tester who had visited earlier the same day that there were no one-bedroom units available to rent.
- As revealed during the United States' investigation, defendants have engaged in the following racially discriminatory actions, among others:
- Informing African Americans that there are no apartments available for rent, while at the same time informing white persons about current or upcoming rental opportunities;
- Permitting white persons to inspect either vacant apartments or occupied apartments similar to soon-to-be vacant apartments, while at the same time representing to African Americans that there are no apartments available for inspection;
- Offering to waive application fees for white prospective tenants, while not similarly offering to do so for African American prospective tenants; and
- Encouraging white persons to apply for tenancy while at the same time withholding such encouragement from African Americans, even referring them to other apartment complexes.
- The United States' investigation also revealed that defendants adhere to a policy of not renting to families with children. Defendants have also made statements with respect to the rental of apartments that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status.
- By taking the actions described in paragraphs 7 - 9 above, defendants have engaged in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race and familial status, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. More specifically, defendants have:
- Refused to rent, refused to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to persons because of race and familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of dwellings, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race and familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(b);
- Made statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
- Represented to persons because of race that dwellings are not available for inspection or rental when such dwellings are in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
- The conduct of defendants, as described herein, constitutes:
- A pattern and practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
- There may be persons who have been victims of defendants' discriminatory conduct and who may have suffered damages as a result of such conduct. Those persons are "aggrieved persons" as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
- Defendants' discriminatory conduct has been intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
- Declares that defendants' discriminatory policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins defendants, their officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
- Discriminating on account of race and familial status against any person in any aspect of the lease or rental of a dwelling;
- Failing or refusing to notify the public that all dwellings which defendants own or operate are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis;
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for defendants' discriminatory conduct; and
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of any discriminatory conduct in the future, and failing or refusing to eliminate, to the greatest extent practicable, the effects of defendants' unlawful housing practices;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices for the injuries occasioned by such practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
- Awards each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory practices punitive damages based on the intentional and willful nature of defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assesses a civil penalty against each defendant in the amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
BILL LANN LEE
Acting Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Acting Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
BRIAN F. HEFFERNAN
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
JOHN J. KELLY
United States Attorney
United States Attorney
District of New Mexico
P.O. Box 607
Albuquerque, NM 87103