Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in Religious Land Use Case Involving Oregon Church That Feeds People Who are Homeless or Hungry
The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the owner and operator of the Heritage Point mobile home park in Montgomery, Ala., alleging that the companies and their employees or officers discriminated against African-Americans.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, names several defendants, including Lawrence Properties Inc., which manages Heritage Point, William Bounds, the district supervisor for Lawrence Properties, Lawrence at Lakewood LLC, which owns the property and Michael Lawrence, the president of the Lawrence at Lakewood, LLC. The complaint alleges that Lawrence instructed property managers not to rent to African-American applicants at Heritage Point or other mobile home parks managed by Lakewood throughout Alabama and Georgia.
“No one should be prevented from living in a mobile home park or anywhere else just because of their race,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It takes courage to come forward and report such discrimination. We will continue to defend the rights of those who step forward to report discrimination by holding owners and managers who violate the law accountable for their discriminatory conduct.”
“Our Fair Housing laws protect mobile home park residents just as they do all other people seeking to rent or buy a home or seek a home loan,” stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and DOJ are committed to combating all violations of the Fair Housing Act.”
The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the defendants from engaging in future unlawful discrimination. It also seeks the payment of a civil penalty and monetary damages for the persons who were refused the opportunity to rent at Heritage Point because of their race.
Fighting illegal discrimination in housing is a top priority of the Justice Department. 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 . Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination or have information related to this lawsuit can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.