An Oklahoma mother who was denied housing for her and her daughter by a housing authority because she is Black is to receive a settlement, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
The housing authority of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma and former employees David Haynes and Myra Hess must now pay $75,000 in damages and take other actions after violating the Fair Housing Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Fair Housing Act forbids landlords to discriminate in choosing tenants because of their race, religion, ethnic origin, color, sex, physical or mental handicap, or family status.
“Housing authorities are entrusted with tax-payer dollars to serve some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the DOJ‘s Civil Rights Division said. “It is abhorrent that a housing authority would deny a home to any applicant on the basis of race.”
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorous enforcement of federal law to ensure that no one is unlawfully denied housing because of race or for any other prohibited reason,” she continued.
Attorneys for the mother filed a lawsuit in December 2020. In her lawsuit, she alleged the housing authority told the Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. that apartments were available for the mother and invited her to apply. After the housing authority learned the race of the mother and child, her application was denied, and she was told that the apartments were no longer available.
This was a lie.
Legal Aid then conducted its own sting operation and employees for the housing associate told a white mother and daughter, posing as applicants, that numerous apartments were available. In fact, they were shown three vacant apartments.
The following day, told a Black mother and granddaughter who posed as applicants were told that the apartments were unavailable.
The Housing Authority receives funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and manages 25 apartments.
Under the settlement, the housing authority and former employees, Haynes and Hess, must pay $65,000 to the original applicant and her child and an additional $10,000 to Legal Aid.