Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Plaintiff;

HOUSING DISCRIMINATION PROJECT, INC.

Intervenor/Plaintiff

v.

CHOICE PROPERTY CONSULTANTS, INC.
KAREN SOUCIE; and PAMELA MCGUIRK

Defendants.

_____________________________________

CONSENT ORDER WITH RESPECT TO DEFENDANTS
CHOICE PROPERTY CONSULTANTS, INC. AND KAREN SOUCIE

  1. Background

The United States of America and the Housing Discrimination Project, Inc. ("HDP") brought this action pursuant to § 814 of the Fair Housing Act ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., alleging that Choice Property Consultants, Inc. and Karen Soucie ("Choice and Soucie") violated the Act by discriminating against applicants for housing on the basis of race, national origin, and familial status. Prior to the filing of this action, HDP initiated proceedings before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") against defendants Choice and Soucie. After HUD issued a reasonable cause determination that Choice and Soucie had engaged in illegal housing discrimination practices, HDP elected to have its claims adjudicated in this Court. The United States then commenced this action on behalf of HDP, pursuant to § 812(o) of the Act, and under its authority to sue persons engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of the rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, and to sue where the discriminatory conduct raises an issue of general public importance, pursuant to § 814(a) of the Act. HDP subsequently intervened in the action.
Specifically, the United States and HDP alleged that Choice and Soucie violated the Fair Housing Act by recording the discriminatory preferences of their landlord clients on documents used by Choice and Soucie to place tenants in available housing and by honoring those preferences by failing to inform minority apartment seekers and apartment seekers with children of available units owned by landlords who did not wish to rent to minorities or to families with children. Thus, Choice and Soucie:
  1. Made housing unavailable to persons on the basis of race, national origin and familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a) and HUD regulations by restricting their choice of dwellings (24 C.F.R. §100.70), employing codes to segregate applicants (24 C.F.R. §100.70), and misrepresenting the availability of dwellings (24 C.F.R. §100.70 and §100.80); and
  2. Recorded statements expressing a preference or limitation on the basis of race, national origin, and familial status in the rental of apartments, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(c).
All parties to this Consent Order agree that this action should be resolved with regard to Choice and Soucie without further proceedings and without a trial. Therefore, the parties to this Consent Order have consented to the entry of this Order as indicated by the signatures appearing below. Throughout the course of the negotiation of this Consent Order, Choice and Soucie have been represented by counsel. By consenting to the entry of this Order, Choice and Soucie admit liability with regard to the Order, Judgment, and Decree set forth in section II. (page 3) of this Consent Order. The parties to this Consent Order agree that in the event it is determined that Choice and Soucie have engaged in any violation(s) of the Fair Housing Act subsequent to the date of entry of this Order, such violation(s) shall constitute a "subsequent violation" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(C)(ii).
This Consent Order resolves all claims asserted in this action by the United States and HDP arising out of any act or occurrence prior to the entry of this Order relating to the fair housing practices of Choice and Soucie, including the claim by the United States, under 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a), that Choice and Soucie engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.(1)

  • General Provisions of Consent Order
  • It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that Choice and Soucie have:
    1. Made housing unavailable to persons on the basis of race, national origin and familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) and HUD regulations by restricting their choice of dwellings (24 C.F.R. §100.70), employing codes to segregate applicants (24 C.F.R. §100.70), and misrepresenting the availability of dwellings (24 C.F.R. §100.70 and §100.80); and
    2. Recorded statements expressing a preference or limitation on the basis of race, national origin, and familial status in the rental of apartments, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).

  • Injunction
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    Choice and Soucie, their agents, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them are permanently enjoined from:
    1. misrepresenting the availability of apartments for rent on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin;
    2. imposing different terms and conditions for the rental of apartments on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin;
    3. making any statements with respect to the rental of an apartment that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin;
    4. discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin in the provision of facilities and services in connection with the rental of apartments; and
    5. discouraging an applicant for an apartment, or otherwise making unavailable an apartment for rent on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.

  • Fair Housing Education and Training
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    For the term of this Order, which is thirty-nine (39) months pursuant to section X below, Choice and Soucie shall implement the following fair housing education and training program for their rental managers, leasing agents and other employees and agents with rental responsibilities:
    1. within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall submit to counsel for the United States and HDP a written fair housing policy. Upon approval by the United States and HDP, defendants shall distribute such policy to all employees or independent contractors with responsibilities for the showing or rental of apartments together with a copy of this Consent Order, and obtain each such person's signature signifying that he or she has received a copy of and read the defendants' fair housing policy and the Order. During the term of this Order, if defendants wish to modify or alter the policy, Choice and Soucie will submit the proposed changes to counsel for the United States and HDP for review and approval.
    2. Within 30 days of the entry of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall require all employees or independent contractors whose duties include taking inquiries concerning the availability of apartments , taking or processing applications for rental, or supervising employees or independent contractors with such duties, to undergo a formal program of training regarding the obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act.
    3. Choice and Soucie shall require all persons newly hired for positions described in the preceding paragraph to attend such training within 30 days of undertaking his or her duties.
    4. Choice and Soucie agree that HDP is the appropriate organization to conduct the training required by this section, and will contract with HDP to provide such training over the life of this Order (39 months). Choice and Soucie will pay HDP a reasonable fee for such training, which fee shall be paid in addition to the $30,000 Choice and Soucie will pay to HDP pursuant to section VIII of this Order.

  • Public Notice of Fair Housing Policies
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    For the term of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall:
    1. include the following written statement on all Choice and Soucie' rental applications, landlord listing sheets and documents describing to landlords the services Choice and Soucie intend to provide:
      Choice Properties Consultants, Inc. and Karen Soucie are equal opportunity housing providers. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, marital status, age, sexual orientation and handicap.
    2. conspicuously post the federal fair housing poster as described by former 24 C.F.R. § 110.15 and § 110.25 in Choice and Soucie' rental office, provided that rental activities are being conducted in commercial space which is open to the public;
    3. include the phrase "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the fair housing logo in all newspaper and other written rental advertising as described by former 24 C.F.R. § 109, Appendix I.

  • Maintenance of Records
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    For the term of this Order, Choice and Soucie are required to preserve all records related to this Order, including rental applications, leases, landlord listing sheets, vacancy reports or other documents noting all vacancies available through Choice and Soucie on a weekly and monthly basis, and status reports pertaining to Choice and Soucie' rental practices. Upon reasonable notice to Choice and Soucie, representatives of the United States and HDP shall be permitted to inspect and copy all such records of Choice and Soucie at any and all reasonable times; provided, however, that the United States and HDP shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to Choice and Soucie from inspection of such records. Such inspection shall not be conducted more than once in any six-month period and, to the extent feasible, shall be conducted within 30 days of receipt by the United States and HDP of the reports mandated by Section VII below.
    For the term of this Order, Choice and Soucie are required to maintain a written telephone log with the following information for each person who telephones Choice and Soucie and inquires about an apartment for rent:
    1. name and telephone number; and
    2. date of telephone inquiry.

  • Reporting Requirement
  • .

    Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    Within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall provide counsel for the United States and HDP with a written statement which shall include, as of the date of entry of this Order, the name of each of Choice and Soucie' rental agents who has already attended fair housing training and the date he or she attended the training;
    Furthermore, every six months during the term of this Order (hereinafter referred to as "a reporting period"), Choice and Soucie are required to report to the United States and HDP for the purpose of monitoring compliance with this Order by making available to counsel for the United States and HDP the following documents which shall provide information covering the preceding six months:
    1. copies of the employee and agent signed fair housing statements and fair housing training verifications as described in Section IV of this Order;
    2. a written statement which shall set forth, for each person who rented an apartment through Choice and Soucie during the preceding six months, the tenant's name, race, national origin, familial status (existence and number of minor children in household), and address;
    3. make available to counsel for the United States and HDP written records which shall include the following information for each black and Hispanic person (who is so known to Choice and Soucie), and family with minor children, who has inquired with Choice and Soucie about apartments for rent:
      1. name and telephone number,
      2. the date of inquiry,
      3. the type of apartment (number of bedrooms) requested,
      4. the date of availability requested,
      5. whether a rental application was completed,
      6. whether the rental application was accepted or rejected,
      7. if the rental application was accepted, the address, including apartment number, of the apartment which was leased, and
      8. if the rental application was rejected, the reason for the rejection.
    4. Make available to counsel for the United States and HDP copies of the telephone logs described above.
      Furthermore, for the term of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall notify counsel for the United States and HDP in writing within thirty (30) days of receipt of any written legal or administrative housing discrimination complaint regarding the operation of any rental housing business of Choice or Soucie.
      Furthermore, for the term of this Order, Choice and Soucie shall notify counsel for the United States and HDP in writing within thirty (30) days of any statement by any owner of a dwelling expressing a preference or limitation, with regard to the sale or rental of a dwelling, based on the race, dolor, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin of the potential buyer or tenant of that dwelling.

  • Monetary Relief
  • .

    Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    Choice and Soucie shall pay to HDP, as monetary relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(3), in compensation for the diversion of its resources occasioned by Choice and Soucie's conduct, the sum of $30,000. Such payment shall be made in installments to counsel for HDP, Joel Feldman, Heisler, Fields & Feldman, P.C., 1145 Main Street, Suite 215, Springfield MA 01103. A first payment of $2500 shall be paid to counsel for HDP within fourteen (14) days of the parties and/or their counsel executing this Consent Order. Thereafter equal payments of $625 shall be delivered by the first day of every month to counsel for HDP for the next twelve (12) consecutive months. Thereafter, equal payments of $833.34 shall be delivered by the first day of every month to counsel for HDP for the next twenty-four (24) consecutive months
    If by the first day of the thirteenth month after the execution of this Consent Order a total of $10,000 has not been paid by Choice and Soucie to counsel for HDP, the total balance due HDP shall increase by $3000 and this increase shall be paid by the first day of the twenty-fifth month after the execution of this Consent Order. If by the first day of the twenty-fifth month after the execution of this Consent Order a total of $20,000 has not been paid by Choice and Soucie to counsel for HDP, the total balance due HDP shall increase by $3000 and this increase shall be paid by the first day of the thirty-seventh month after the execution of this Consent Order. If by the first day of the thirty-seventh month after the execution of this Consent Order a total of $30,000 has not been paid to counsel for HDP, the total balance due HDP shall increase by $3000 and shall be due immediately. If the increases due under this section are not paid in a timely manner, the amount of increase shall itself be increased by $10 per day for each day after the due date such payment has not been received by counsel for HDP.
    For purposes of 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6), the conduct giving rise to the monetary payment by Soucie and Choice to HDP required by this section of the Consent Order shall be deemed willful and malicious and, therefore, such monetary payment shall not be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

  • Affirmative Marketing and Other Affirmative Measures
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    For the term of this Order, defendant Karen Soucie shall undertake an affirmative marketing program targeting those groups who were disfavored by Choice and Soucie as described in HDP's complaint in this action. Soucie shall report to the United States and HDP on her activities every six months, and such activities must include one event every two months designed to encourage blacks and Hispanics to use the services offered by Ms. Soucie and Choice Properties Consultants, Inc.
    Should defendant Karen Soucie, during the life of this Order, accept a position involving the rental of dwellings, she shall, within 15 days of beginning such employment, furnish the United States with the name and address of her employer and the location where she is employed.

  • Continuing Jurisdiction and Dismissal
  • Additionally it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that:
    The term of this Order shall be thirty-nine (39) months from the date of entry of this Order. For the term of this Order, the Court shall retain jurisdiction of this action to enforce the provisions of this Consent Order. The term of this Order may be extended upon motion by any party if the Court determines it necessary to extend any of the requirements imposed by this Consent Order, in which case those specific requirements shall be extended. After the expiration of the term of this Order, this action will be dismissed with prejudice and each party shall bear its own costs and attorneys' fees. The United States and HDP and Choice and Soucie shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.

    ORDERED this day of , 1999.
    NATHANIEL M. GORTON
    United States District Court Judge

    The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order.

    CHOICE PROPERTY CONSULTANTS, INC. AND KAREN SOUCIE

    Karen Soucie

    HOUSING DISCRIMINATION PROJECT, INC.

    Joel Feldman
    Heisler, Fields & Feldman, P.C.
    1145 Main Street, Suite 215
    Springfield MA 01103

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Donald K. Stern
    United States Attorney
    By: John A. Capin
    Assistant U.S. Attorney
    1 Courthouse Way, Suite 9200
    Boston, MA 02210


    1. This Consent Order shall not be construed as a bar to any action that the Attorney General may be required to bring in the future on behalf of an individual or individuals pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(a) and (o). > >

    Updated August 6, 2015

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