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Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

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The owners of an Ann Arbor apartment complex will pay $82,500 to settle a lawsuit claiming the complex discriminated against African-Americans, according to the U.S. Attorney in Detroit.

The Justice Department filed the suit last March in response to evidence yielded by the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan that the complex repeatedly gave preference to Caucasian apartment applicants than to African-American applicants.

Evidence came from tests conducted by the Fair Housing Center showed African-Americans were quoted later dates for apartment availability than white people. In some cases, the African-American applicants weren’t shown available apartments or were denied vacancies altogether.

Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, issued a statement saying “Unfortunately, racial discrimination in housing persists in Michigan and elsewhere. We will continue to protect the rights of all persons in this District to obtain the housing of their choice free from unlawful discrimination.”

Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez, who helped to handle the case, agreed that Tuesday’s settlement was a victory for civil rights.

“Racial discrimination in housing harms not only those who were denied housing, but also the communities in which they live,” said Perez. “Today’s settlement is a clear signal of our commitment to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act and to fight illegal discrimination in housing.”

Under the settlement, which must still be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Sean F. Cox, the defendants will pay $35,000 in damages to three victims who the United States contends were discriminated against because of their race at Ivanhoe House Apartments; pay $7,500 in a civil penalty to the United States; and pay $40,000 to the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan as damages for the non-profit’s efforts in testing and investigating the apartment complex. 

The settlement also requires the defendants and their employees to undergo fair housing training, conduct self-testing of the apartment complex, and provide periodic reports to the Justice Department and the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.

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