Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against Owner of North Fort Myers, Florida, Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Park
The Justice Department announced today that Southwind Village LLC, the owner and operator of Southwind Village Mobile Home Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, has agreed to pay $60,000 to resolve allegations that it discriminated against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The settlement was approved today by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
The government’s complaint, filed on Sept. 30, 2015, alleges that Southwind Village’s then-manager, Carl Bruckler, refused to rent recreational vehicle lots to African Americans. According to the complaint, Bruckler falsely told African Americans who inquired about residing in the park that no lots were available or that there was a waiting list, and discouraged African Americans from making future inquiries at the park. The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.
“Discrimination on the basis of race or color in housing will not be tolerated,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate Southwind Village’s willingness to resolve these serious allegations promptly.”
“All citizens, regardless of their race or color, have the right to equal and fair treatment when choosing where to live,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida. “We will continue to fight illegal discrimination, wherever it might exist.”
Under the terms of the agreement, which is in the form of a consent order, Southwind Village will establish a settlement fund in the amount of $35,000 to compensate victims of their discriminatory practices and pay a civil penalty of $25,000 to the United States. The agreement further requires Southwind Village to take steps to ensure that African Americans are no longer restricted from renting recreational vehicle lots at Southwind Village Mobile Home Park, located at 1269 River Road in North Fort Myers, and to provide periodic reports to the government. The settlement does not resolve the government’s lawsuit against Carl Bruckler.
Individuals who have information about, or who believe they may have been harmed by, the defendants’ conduct should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, option 9992, or e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.