Justice wins $475,000 in race/family settlement against Michigan complex 

The United States Department of Justice recently received a $475,000 settlement from the Park Woods Apartments in Allen Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The monetary settlement came in response to complaints of racial and family status discrimination from tenants and prospective tenants of Park Woods. The September 23 settlement was one of many stemming from the Justice Department's nationwide fair housing testing program.

According a complaint filed by the Justice Department in June 1995, the manager at Park Woods lied to African-American testers, who were posing as prospective tenants, by saying that no apartments were available for rent when apartments were, in fact, available. The manager subsequently told white testers that apartments were available.

During its investigation of racial discrimination, the Justice Department also found evidence of family status discrimination at Park Woods. The complex manager had segregated the community by dividing Park Woods into "family" and "adults-only" sections. Park Woods also placed restrictions on the number of children that were allowed to live in the complex and made rules about the types of families that could live at the complex. Seven families with children who lived at Allen Park Apartments joined the Justice Department in its 1995 complaint.

Park Woods, which consists of 252 apartment units, is owned and currently managed by Solomon Sylvan, who owns two other Detroit-area complexes. At the time of the Justice Department's original investigation, Park Woods was managed by John Kastl, a retired Detroit police officer.