The Department of Justice announced today that the landlord and former manager of rental properties in Quakertown, Pennsylvania has agreed to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by the United States in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The United States alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act when they refused to let a tenant’s girlfriend move in with him because she was pregnant with his son and because the tenant was recovering from alcohol addiction.
In 1988, Congress expanded the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on family status and disability. The law’s prohibition on discrimination based on family status protects people under the age of 18, as well as anyone who is pregnant. Fair Housing Act disability protections cover people recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, but they do not apply to current illegal use or addiction to a controlled substance . The US lawsuit tenant successfully completed an alcohol treatment program and recovered from his addiction for about nine months before asking his girlfriend to move into the property.
“For more than three decades, federal law has prohibited housing discrimination against people because they are pregnant or because they are recovering from alcohol addiction,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen. Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The resolution of this lawsuit advances the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensuring that people expecting children, as well as people recovering from addiction, have equal access to housing opportunities without unlawful discrimination. .”
“The expectation and arrival of a new baby is meant to elicit celebration, not the threat of eviction,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “The same should be true for people working hard to manage their addictions – they deserve support, not barriers to accessing safe and affordable housing. Growing families and those struggling to stay stable should be able to count on the stability of their home.
The consent order resolving the lawsuit, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, arose out of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the tenant in his own name and in the name of his minor daughter. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and the case was referred to the Department of Justice.
“The Fair Housing Act aims to ensure that people recovering from addiction and their families can access housing without discrimination in housing,” said Deputy Principal Assistant Secretary Demetria L. McCain for the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD. “HUD commends the Department of Justice for its partnership with HUD and its assistance in resolving this case.”
Under the consent order, the defendants will pay a total of $75,000 to the tenant and his child. The Consent Order also requires the Defendants to take steps to prevent future unlawful discrimination, including compliance with the Fair Housing Act, training, and implementing non-discrimination policies on the Fair Housing Act in connection with the rental and management of residential properties, and submitting to compliance. and reporting requirements.
The fight against illegal discrimination in housing is a top priority of the Ministry of Justice. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, and disability. Visit www.usdoj.gov/crt for more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces. Additional information about the Fair Housing Act is available at www.HUD.gov.