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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 1995

CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES SUBURBAN DETROIT APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR REFUSING TO RENT TO AFRICAN AMERICANS Congress May Bar Similar Anti-discrimination Suits

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued the owners and manager of a suburban Detroit apartment complex for allegedly refusing to rent units to African Americans. The case stems from a nationwide testing program that already has produced 27 suits, including seven in the Detroit area alone. Under the program, trained pairs of black and white testers with similar credentials posing as prospective tenants inquire about available units. By comparing the experiences of the testers, investigators are able to determine whether minorities are treated less favorably than whites. Today's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, accuses the 252-unit Allen Park complex of engaging in a pattern of discrimination against African Americans and families with children in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. It alleged that the owners and manager of the Park Woods Apartment falsely informed black applicants that no apartments were available while telling whites that they were. The complaint also alleged that the complex discriminated against families with children -- which has been illegal since 1989. Congress, though, may bar the Justice Department from bringing such suits in the future. Under proposed legislation, being considered today in the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, the Department would be unable to challenge patterns of discrimination by housing providers and lending institutions. "It is unthinkable that the Justice Department would no longer be able to challenge patterns of discrimination," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "This legislation would threaten anti-discrimination measures supported by the past seven Presidents." "We must continue to vigorously fight racial discrimination in housing which too often goes undetected," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "Today's actions should warn all housing providers that housing discrimination is a violation of federal law." The Justice Department conducted its testing in conjunction with the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit. Of the six suits previously filed in the Detroit area, four were settled in 1993 and two were settled in 1994, resulting in more than $1 million in civil penalties and damages for victims. "To deny applicants an apartment because of their race or because they have children is to deny that person a share of the American Dream" said U.S. Attorney Saul A. Green in Detroit. "We will vigorously prosecute such discrimination." The complaint seeks an order preventing the complex from engaging in further discriminatory practices and requiring the defendants to pay damages to any individuals identified as victims of the discrimination. Under the Fair Housing Act, a court may also require each defendant to pay a civil penalty up to $50,000 for the first violation and $100,000 for each subsequent violation. Individuals who believe they may have been the victims of housing discrimination at Park Woods Apartments should call the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department at 202-514-4713, the U.S. Attorney's Office at 313-226-9792, or the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit at 313housing discrimination at other locations should call the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-927-9275. # # # 95-362