Sound familiar? That's because the same type of racial marketing strategy was allegedly recently employed at an apartment complex in Alabama, leading the DOJ to file a fair housing complaint against the complex's owner, manager, and maintenance employee (see "Using Racism to Rent Apartments," July 24, 2009).
The owners and operators of the Florida complex have agreed to settle, in light of evidence gathered by DOJ testers that indicate the complex violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by:
- Directing the property managers not to rent to applicants who even "appear" to be black;
- Telling white applicants that an advantage of living at the complex is its lack of black tenants;
- Encouraging white prospects to apply for an apartment while discouraging black prospects from doing the same;
- Offering to waive costs such as the application fee only for white prospects.
Under the August 27, 2009 Consent Decree, the complex must pay $115,000 to identified "aggrieved persons," plus up to $25,000 in compensation to additional discrimination victims who still may come forward — as well as a $74,000 civil penalty. The complex has also agreed to have its employees undergo fair housing training and take other steps to prevent violations in the future.