The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a charge of discrimination against the landlord of a Lakewood, N.J., apartment complex and two employees for allegedly attempting to segregate tenants based on their religion, race, color and national origin.
HUD alleged that Triple H. Realty LLC, owner of the 104-unit, six-building Cottage Manor Apartments, along with the managing agent and onsite superintendent treated non-Jewish tenants differently than Jewish tenants. Specifically, HUD alleges that non-Jewish Hispanic and African-American tenants were forced to transfer to the buildings located in the rear of the subject property to allow Jewish families to move into the better-kept apartments in the front of the complex.
HUD found in its investigation that the managing agent for Triple H. Realty allegedly offered Jewish tenants incentives to relocate to Cottage Manor and instructed the onsite superintendent to ask African-American and Hispanic families living in two buildings to transfer to another building so that Jewish tenants would not have to live among African-American and Hispanic families.
“The allegations involved in this case smack of the racial covenants and the ugly segregation of the past,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Forcing families to move because of their religious beliefs is not a part of America today.”
HUD’s investigation found non-Jewish, African-American and Hispanic tenants allegedly received little to no apartment maintenance as compared to the maintenance provided to Jewish tenants. For example, Cottage Manor management allegedly refused to properly exterminate a non-Jewish family’s apartment, as well as failed to perform adequate maintenance repairs in the family’s bedroom and bathroom.
HUD’s on-site investigation confirmed that the maintenance of the one building occupied by non-Jewish tenants was substantially different. The building housing many of the Jewish families has a well-manicured lawn in the front courtyard that is enclosed by a white picket fence. Conversely, the buildings with the majority of African-American and Hispanic tenants are not well maintained, have little or no lawn in the courtyards, and the courtyards are not enclosed.
Cottage Manor management also allegedly instituted different lawn policies for tenants that were not Jewish. African-American and Hispanic tenants were allegedly told that they could not leave any toys or personal items on the lawns, but Jewish tenants were allowed to leave personal items on the lawns.
Kendrick added, “Providing unequal living facilities based on religion, race, color, and/or national origin is simply inconceivable. We are committed to ensuring these families have an equal opportunity for housing in their community.”
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against persons based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorneys’ fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY) or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743 or 202-514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.usdoj.gov.