A landlord who refused to rent to an African American woman after texting her a flurry of racial slurs, including the N-word, has been charged with discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
When the unidentified woman reached out to John Graham about a rental in early 2017, the Paramus, New Jersey landlord “denied the opportunity to rent a two-bedroom apartment that was advertised on Craigslist because [the woman and her young son] are African-American,” HUD stated in a release.
Along with saying the woman did “not make the cut,” the landlord, who owns three properties in Paramus, also sent several texts calling her racial slurs, making references to slaves and writing ‘KKK’ and ‘White power white power.’
The woman had first called Graham to ask about the apartment, according to the Paramus Daily Voice. Graham asked her to come in and see it and when she said she could’t do it that day, he hung up and sent the following exchange of texts:
Graham: No thank you….Do not make the cut
Woman: What are you talking about
Graham: Apartment is rented….[N-word] free zone….White power white power
Woman: Learn how to wash your ass you racist asshole go kill yourself bastard
Graham: I’ll have my slave clean it for me….With her slave tone
Woman: Go finish f[*****]g your mother you retarded sick ass
The woman then filed a complaint about the incident to HUD. According to the charge, the woman has suffered actual damages that include emotional distress. If the judge finds that the landlord did discriminate, he or she could also award injunctive relief, equitable relief and attorneys fees on top of actual damages.
Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny people housing based on race along with other factors such as religion, familial status, sex and disability.
“50 years after our nation passed a law prohibiting discrimination in housing, some individuals are still being denied a place to live because of the color of their skin,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, in a prepared statement. “Today’s action reflects HUD’s commitment to protecting the rights of home seekers, no matter their race, and taking action against housing providers that break the law.”
This year, HUD has charged numerous landlords with both racial and other forms of discrimination — one landlord got charged for posting a “NO TEENAGERS PLEASE” ad while another got called out for deeming that a family with five kids was too large to live in their home.