The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced it has negotiated a settlement that will pay more than $30,000 to an African-American couple who allege that a Bensalem, Pa., apartment complex refused to rent to them because of their race.

The couple, Talitha Fleming and William Murray, filed a complaint with HUD in August 2005 alleging that Country Commons Apartments, a 352-unit, HUD-subsidized apartment complex owned by Richlieu Associates and managed by AIMCO, denied them tenancy at the complex while giving preferential treatment to applicants of Russian descent.

To resolve the allegations, Country Commons and AIMCO agreed to pay the couple $10,000, plus their monthly rent and security deposit at their current residence until a unit becomes available at Country Commons. After a unit becomes available, Country Commons and AIMCO will pay the couple’s rent for the first 18 months of their tenancy.

“Housing discrimination based on race is bad enough. HUD has an additional obligation to make sure that all HUD-funded property is open to everyone regardless of race,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This settlement is a victory not only for Ms. Fleming and Mr. Murray, but it makes sure that housing at Country Commons is open to all persons regardless of race.”

Country Commons and AIMCO must begin using a new waiting list to fill vacancies, with the passed-over African American applicants being placed at the top, HUD said. The community manager and assistant community manager at Country Commons also agreed to attend a sensitivity training program on how to deal effectively with members of the protected classes set forth in the Fair Housing Act.

People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.

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