DOJ sues Alabama Housing Authority for segregating white and black residents
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
The Housing Authority of Ashland, Alabama, allegedly discriminated against housing applicants based on their race in order to keep federally funded housing segregated, according to a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice on Tuesday.
The Housing Authority is accused of withholding applications for predominately white complexes from black applicants and vice versa, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The Housing Authority manages seven federally funded low-income complexes.
“Discrimination by those who receive federal taxpayer dollars to provide housing to lower-income applicants is particularly odious because it comes with the support and authority of government,” Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said in a press release.
“The United States Department of Justice will not stand for this kind of unlawful and intolerable discrimination. The Justice Department will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Americans to rent and own their homes without regard to their race or color,” Dreiband said, according to the DOJ.
Justice Department Sues Northern Alabama Housing Authority and Property Owners for Housing Discrimination on The Basis of Race https://t.co/RNMS3LyZcY
— US Attorney NDAL (@NDALnews) December 1, 2020
The Housing Authority has allegedly maintained segregated complexes since at least 2012 by denying black applicants the chance to live at three mostly white housing complexes and refusing to let white candidates apply for residency at two predominately black complexes, according to the lawsuit, the DOJ announced.
“Individuals and families should not have their rights affected by their race or national origin,” Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona said, according to the DOJ. “Our office is committed to defending the civil rights of everyone.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order barring future discrimination and requiring action to remedy the Housing Authority’s alleged discrimination, according to the DOJ. The lawsuit aims to acquire damages for victim compensation and civil penalties to the government.
The complexes are managed by the Southern Development Company of Ashland, Ltd., Southern Development Company of Ashland #2, Ltd., and Southern Development Company, LLC, who appear as defendants on the lawsuit, according to the DOJ.