HUD ALJ Chaitovitz Awards $28,500 In Mississippi Race Case

HUD Administrative Law Judge Samuel A. Chaitovitz has found racial discrimination by the all-white Veranda Apartments of Jackson, Mississippi and ordered payments of $28,500. The ALJ held a hearing in Jackson January 11 and 12, and issued a decision June 2.

He found discrimination against the complainant, Earsell Collier, Jr., a Black sales manager for Kraft Food Services. He had served as a Second Lieutenant in the Desert Storm Operation and is now a Captain in the Army Reserve.

Mr. Collier applied to the Veranda apartments but was rejected after his credit report showed problems involving bad debts. His white friend of five years, Kevin McDaniel, applied for an apartment there and was told there were no black residents. The agent said, "The good thing about it is, it's all white and you don't have to put up with that kind of people." Mr. McDaniel asked if he meant no Black people, and the agent confirmed that he meant no Black people.

Desert Storm Vet Hurt By Racial Statements

Mr. McDaniel reported this to Mr. Collier and said he would not rent there. Mr. Collier was hurt and upset. He found the news "somewhat disappointing." The ALJ found, "As a result he felt frustrated, distrustful, and unsure of what to do in the face of racially biased statements."

Collier told Mr. McDaniel, that while he could serve his country in Desert Storm he could not rent an apartment in Jackson, Mississippi. In January and again in August 1993, Mr. McDaniel co-signed leases with Mr. Collier for other apartment rentals. Both times Mr. Collier told Mr. McDaniel he "needed [his] white face" to rent the apartment.

In February 1993, a white woman Kim Cassidy applied for a Veranda Apartment. While her credit was at least as bad as Mr. Collier's credit, she was offered an apartment.

Agent Attended Fair Housing Seminar

Judge Chaitovitz found that the Veranda is a member of the Greater Jackson Apartment Association. One of the respondents had attended a fair housing seminar in the summer of 1993, and another had attended some meetings.

The ALJ concluded that the agent's statement that Black people were unwelcome in the all-white Veranda was direct evidence of a violation. "That sentiment taints all other actions by Respondents ...the evidence compels me to conclude that race is the selective factor in this case." He said the record establishes that race, not credit was the deciding factor in not renting to Mr. Collier.

Judge Chaitovitz cited Mr. Collier's becoming guarded and distrustful of people's motives, wondering if they were HUD racially motivated. He said, "This change in outlook is the core compensable damage." He awarded Mr. Collier $7,500 for emotional distress. The owner Joe Ellis Joseph and the Manager Dell Wood were also ordered to pay a penalty of $10,000 each. Agent Tommy Wood who showed the apartment to Mr. McDaniel and made the discriminatory remarks will pay a $1,000 penalty.

HUD ex. rel. Collier v. Joseph, HUD ALJ No. 04-93-0306-1
Filed with HUD 2-1-93
HUD charge issued 10-26-93
Hearing 1-11 &12-94
Order 6-2-94

$7,500 to Settle Toledo, Ohio Family Case

Judge Chaitovitz awarded $7,500 to settle a Toledo, Ohio complaint that a landlord had a policy of not renting to families with children. The complaint was filed by Sandy Zimmerman against Benjamin Shenofsky and Ida Shenofsky. The HUD Secretary charged that they did not rent a unit to Ms. Zimmerman because of her child, made statements that they could not rent to Ms Zimmerman because of her daughter, and made other statements about the unacceptability of children as occupants in the Building.

HUD ex rel. Zimmerman v. Shenofsky, HUD ALJ No. 05-92-0729-1
Filed with HUD 3-27-92 
HUD Charge Issued 11-4-93
Order 4-25-94