IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
EL PASO DIVISION
NAOMI SILVA FALVEY,Defendants.
The United States of America alleges:
1.This action is brought by the United States of America on behalf of the Border Fair Housing and Economic Justice Center (“BFHC”), pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
2.This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o).
3.Complainant BFHC is a non-profit fair housing organization with its principal place of business at 1444 Montana, Suite 100, El Paso, Texas, 79902.
4.At all times relevant to the allegation contain herein, John Falvey and Naomi Silva Falvey (collectively “Defendants”) owned and managed a 16-unit apartment complex located at 521 West Missouri, El Paso, Texas, in the Western District of Texas. The apartment complex is comprised of eight (8) efficiency units and eight (8) one-bedroom units.
5.Defendants’ apartment complex is a dwelling within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
6.Venue in this Court is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
7.On or about September 3, 2004, Complainant BFHC was monitoring newspapers for discriminatory housing advertisements when it viewed an advertisement in the El Diario, a Spanish language periodical. The advertisement read: “APARTMENTS for rent downtown – 521 W. Missuri (sic), 1-2 adults, only $220.00 dls. Historic area, special for students (915)740-8700 *sep08.”
8.The advertisement described in paragraph 7 also appeared in Looking at El Paso, the weekly subsidiary publication of El Diario. The advertisement appeared in both periodicals between approximately September 3, 2004 and September 16, 2004.
9.After reviewing the advertisement described in paragraph 7, BFHC arranged for fair housing testers to contact the Defendants and ask about the availability of the apartments.
10.On September 9, 2004, a female fair housing tester called the number appearing on the advertisement described in paragraph 7, and spoke with Defendant Naomi Silva Falvey.
11.The tester inquired about the availability of the apartments. Ms. Falvey asked the female tester whether she had any children. When the tester explained that she was a single mother and had a seven-year-old daughter, Ms. Falvey explained that the available apartments were one-bedroom units and that the tester would need to rent a two-bedroom unit because she had a child. The tester asked Defendant whether there were any two-bedroom units available. Defendant responded that there were none available.
12.On September 13, 2004, a male fair housing tester called the number appearing on the advertisement described in paragraph 7, and spoke with Ms. Falvey.
13.The tester inquired about the availability of the apartments. Ms. Falvey asked whether the tester had any children. The tester responded that he did not, and that the apartment would be occupied only by him and his wife. Ms. Falvey then invited the tester to view the apartment that afternoon.
14.On or about September 29, 2005, Defendants rented a one-bedroom unit to two (2) adult males.
15.On December 9, 2004, Complainant BFHC filed a complaint of discrimination with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendant John Falvey had discriminated against them on the basis of familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
16.Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (“Secretary”) conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint and engaged in conciliation efforts, which were unsuccessful.
17.Thereafter, the Secretary prepared a final investigative report based upon the information gathered during the investigation, and the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. HUD issued its Determination of Reasonable Cause on September 23, 2005.
18.HUD issued its Charge of Discrimination against the Defendant John Falvey on September 23, 2005, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
19.On October 18, 2005, Defendant John Falvey made a timely election to have the claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
20.Subsequently, on October 21, 2005, the Secretary authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action on behalf of the Complainant, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
21.Therefore, by the conduct alleged in paragraphs 1 through 14, Defendants have engaged in discriminatory housing practices by denying, or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making a dwelling unavailable on the basis of familial status, in violation of Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).
22.As a result of the conduct or actions of the Defendants, Complainant BFHC suffered injury and damages, including the diversion of its resources from its counseling, referral, educational, and other programs and is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(I).
23.The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Defendants was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of the Complainant and others.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:
1.Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendants, as set forth above, violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
2.Enjoins Defendants, their employees, agents, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from continuing to discriminate on the basis familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
3.Award monetary damages to the Complainant for its injuries caused by the discriminatory housing practices of Defendants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
ALBERTO R. GONZALEZ
WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
Civil Rights Division
MICHAEL S. MAURER
ANTHONY F. ARCHEVAL
District of Columbia Bar No. 468436
Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Northwestern Building, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20530
Tel: (202) 305-4066
Fax: (202) 514-1116
United States Attorney
MAGDALENA G. JARA
Assistant United States Attorney
Texas State Bar No. 10573100
700 E. San Antonio, Ste. 200
El Paso, Texas 79901
Office (915) 534-6884
Facsimile (915) 534-6861
Document Filed: April 7, 2006