IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
GERALD J. POWERS II
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States of America on behalf of Kendra Bland and her three minor children, Nicholas Bland, Gabriella Bland, and Anthony Bland ("Complainants"), 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. Complainants Kendra Brown and her three minor children are residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
4. Defendant Gerald J. Powers II ("Defendant") owns and manages residential property within the Eastern District of Wisconsin, including a two-bedroom unit located at 1682 North Cass Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ("the subject unit").
5. The subject unit is a dwelling within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
6. On or about September 2, 2003, Kendra Bland was looking for a place to live for herself and her three children and was shown the subject unit by Defendant's mother, Millie Powers. Ms. Bland expressed an interest in the unit and Ms. Powers provided her with a rental application, which Ms. Bland filled out at the unit and returned to Ms. Powers before leaving. Ms. Bland indicated on the application, as required, that she had three children and provided their names and ages. Ms. Powers told Ms. Bland that she would give the application to her son, who owned the property. Ms. Bland was never contacted by Defendant or his mother about her application.
7. On or about February 8, 2004, Ms. Bland answered an advertisement for the subject unit in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The advertisement was placed by Eric Oberling and Ann Misiewicz, current tenants at the subject unit, who wanted to move from it prior to the expiration of their lease term. Defendant instructed Mr. Oberling and Ms. Misiewicz that they were responsible for subleasing the unit, conditioned on his approval of the tenant. Mr. Oberling showed Ms. Bland the unit that same day and she realized it was the same unit for which she had applied in September 2003. Mr. Oberling informed Ms. Bland that she would have to contact the owner for an application.
8. On or about February 8, 2004, after being shown the subject unit by Mr. Oberling, Ms. Bland spoke with Defendant by telephone and informed him of her interest in the unit. Once Defendant learned that Ms. Bland had children, Defendant refused to give Ms. Bland an application, claiming "that is going to be a problem." He explained that the subject unit was not suitable for children and that he has had problems with renting to tenants with children in the past.
9. On March 25, 2004, Complainant Kendra Bland filed a complaint of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendant discriminated against her and her minor children, on the basis of their familial status, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.
10. 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.
11. Thereafter, the Secretary prepared a final investigative report based upon 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 29, 2004.
12. HUD issued its Charge of Discrimination against the Defendant on September 29, 2004, 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.
13. On October 18, 2004, Defendant made a timely election to have Complainants' claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).
14. Subsequently, on October 21, 2004, the Secretary, through the General Counsel of HUD, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of the Complainants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(1).
15. Defendant, Gerald J. Powers II, has discriminated against Complainants, Kendra Bland, and her three minor children by:
- refusing to rent after the making of a bona fide offer, 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); and
- making, printing or publishing, or causing to be made, printed or published notices or statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination, based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination in violation of Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(c).
16. As a result of the conduct or actions of the Defendant, Complainants Kendra Bland and her three children have suffered damages and they are aggrieved persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).
17. The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of the Complainants and others.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant Gerald J. Powers II, as set forth above, violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.;
2. Enjoins Defendant Gerald J. Powers II, his employees, agents, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from continuing to discriminate on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(A); and
3. Awards monetary damages to the Complainants for their injuries caused by the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant Gerald J. Powers II pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) , 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(B).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
MATTHEW V. RICHMOND
Chief, Civil Division
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Tel: (414) 297-1700
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General ________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section _________________________
TIMOTHY J. MORAN
JENNIFER C. CASS
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section - G St.
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Tel: (202) 307-2896
Fax: (202) 514-1116
Document Filed: November 16, 2004 > >