IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
The United States of America alleges as follows:
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities ("Leadership Council") pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1345 and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
3. Because the events giving rise to this Complaint occurred in Cook County, Illinois, venue is proper.
4. At all times relevant to this Complaint, the defendant was the owner and manager of the apartment buildings located at 3922 West 124th Street, 12406 Harding Street, and 3913 West 124th Street in Cook County, Illinois ("subject properties").
5. The subject properties are multi-family residential rental properties and are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
6. The Leadership Council is a non-profit Illinois corporation that promotes fair housing in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Leadership Council provides housing and financial counseling to minority home seekers; fair housing and technical training to professionals in the real estate business; and legal services to persons who have encountered housing discrimination. In addition, the Leadership Council investigates complaints of housing discrimination.
7. On April 4, 2002, the Leadership Council filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) alleging that the defendant had discriminated against it on the basis of race and/or color, in connection with the rental of apartments at the subject properties, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
8. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted an investigation of the Leadership Council's complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon the information gathered in its investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred at the defendant's property. Therefore, on July 13, 2004, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the defendant had engaged in discriminatory practices, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.
9. On July 16, 2004, the Leadership Council made a timely election to have the charge resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
10. The Secretary of HUD subsequently authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of the Leadership Council pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
11. In September and October 2001, the Leadership Council, following-up on a complaint of discrimination it had received, sent three undercover testers (two White testers and one African-American tester) to the subject properties posing as prospective renters to determine whether the defendant was engaging in illegal housing discrimination.
12. The defendant has discriminated against the Leadership Council at the subject properties, as encompassed by HUD's July 13, 2004, Charge of Discrimination, by, among other things:
- Imposing more burdensome application procedures on the African-American tester than on the White testers;
- Discouraging the African-American tester from inspecting and renting a unit available for rental but not doing so for the White testers;
- Delaying the application process for the African-American tester but not doing so for the White testers ; and
- Requiring the African-American tester to pay a credit check fee to apply for housing but not doing so for the White testers.
13. By its actions, the defendant has:
- discriminated against the Leadership Council by making housing unavailable to its African-American tester on the basis of race and/or color, in violation of § 3604(a); and
- discriminated against the Leadership Council by offering inferior terms and conditions of rental to its African-American tester on the basis of race and/or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).
14. The Leadership Council is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). The organization has suffered injury and damages, including the diversion of its resources from its counseling, referral, educational, and other programs, as a result of the defendant's unlawful conduct as described above.
15. The defendant's discriminatory actions as set forth above were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an Order that:
1. Declares that the actions of the defendant as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604;
2. Enjoins the defendant, his partners, officers, employees, agents, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from violating the Fair Housing Act; and
3. Awards monetary damages to the Leadership Council pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(3).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
Civil Rights Division
TIMOTHY J. MORAN
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Northwestern Building, 7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone: (202) 305-1291
Fax: (202) 514-1116
Document Filed: August 16, 2004 > >