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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES SUBURBAN DETROIT APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR REFUSING TO RENT TO AFRICAN AMERICANS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued the owners and former managers of a suburban Detroit apartment complex for allegedly refusing to rent to African Americans. The case is part of a testing program that has now produced 30 enforcement actions in several regions, including eight in the Detroit area. 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 48-unit Marsten Apartments in Allen Park, situated at 19220 Wick Road, 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, Marsten Apartments, Inc., Lorraine Labana and Harendra Gandhi, and the former managers, Jerry Padgett and Lilian Padgett, falsely informed African Americans that no apartments were available, while at the same telling whites that there were apartments available. The complaint also alleged that the defendants tried to restrict families with children to certain units in the complex, a practice which has been unlawful since 1989. "To deny a person an apartment because of their race or because they have children denies that person a share of the American Dream," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Deval L. Patrick. "We will vigorously prosecute perpetrators of discrimination." Patrick noted that six of the eight Detroit area testing cases have resulted in settlements totaling over $1 million, including a record $425,000 settlement against Kings Pointe Apartments in Warren, Michigan. In June, the Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against another Allen Park complex, the Park Woods Apartments. "We will continue to vigorously fight racial discrimination in housing which too often goes unchallenged or undetected," said United States Attorney Saul A. Green. "Today's actions should warn all housing providers in the Detroit area that housing discrimination can and will be uncovered." Patrick and Green also praised the cooperation of the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, which assisted in the testing at Park Woods. 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 a subsequent violation. Individuals who believe that they may have been the victims of housing discrimination at the Marsten Apartments should call the U.S. Attorney's Office at 313-226-9792, the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department at 202-514-4713, or the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit at 313-963-1274. # # # 95-529