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Fair Housing Center Settles Two Familial Status Housing Discrimination Cases for $ 49,500

Posted on 24. Mar, 2011 by

This week, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) entered into conciliation agreements with two rental-housing companies in the New Orleans area that discriminated on the basis of family status (whether or not there are children under the age of 18 living in a household).

Under the conciliation agreements Lexi Properties, LLC and NOLA Apartments will:

  1. Adopt and implement objective, uniform nondiscriminatory standards in renting housing units, which will be distributed in writing to all current and future agents and tenants.
  2. Post a fair housing sign in their rental offices and include the words “Equal Housing Opportunity Provider” in all advertisements.
  3. Attend three hours of fair housing training.

In addition, Lexi Properties will pay $27,500 and NOLA Apartments will pay $22,000 to GNOFHAC, to compensate the organization for damages incurred because of the respondents’ alleged discriminatory actions.

The fair housing complaints stemmed from testing evidence that indicated a difference in terms and conditions in housing for families with children.  The complaints were filed in August 2010 and the Louisiana Department of Justice (LADOJ) found cause to believe that discrimination had occurred.  The LADOJ then provided mediation services that resulted in these settlements.

The Community Justice Clinic at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law represented GNOFHAC, including student practitioners Angela O’Brien, Vanessa Howell, Annais Narrow, Abraham Sandel, and Ameca Reali, and supervising attorney Davida Finger.

In the investigations that led up to the filing of the complaints, agents working with both housing providers clearly stated their refusal to rent certain units to families with children to GNOFHAC’s housing mystery shoppers.  An agent for Lexi Properties stated that a unit was located in “strictly an adult complex.”  Similarly, after a GNOFHAC mystery shopper with a child expressed interest in a one-bedroom unit, an agent for NOLA Apartments told her “that’s not going to be able to happen with us sweetie.  Our one bedroom is only for one occupant or a couple.”  In some instances, mystery shoppers were steered to other apartment complexes.

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, sex, familial status or disability.

GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “Discrimination on the basis of familial status is unfortunately common in our region and we hope that these settlements will send a clear message to housing providers that it is illegal and won’t be tolerated.  We are grateful to the Community Justice Clinic at the Loyola University School of Law for its invaluable assistance with this case and for the hard work of LADOJ in resolving the complaints.”

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