Justice Department wins $125,000 settlement from two Florida complexes in race/family complaints

The owners and managers of two southern Florida apartment complexes that allegedlyrefused to rent to African Americans and families with children agreed in April to pay$125,000 under an agreement reached with the Justice Department.

Theagreement, filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, resolves a Justice Departmenthousing discrimination suit filed in 1995. The suit alleged that the owners and operatorsof Boca Manor Apartments in Boca Raton and The Meadows Apartments in Kendall engaged in apattern of discrimination on the basis of race and familial status.

Managers lied to African-Americans
According to the Department's suit, the resident managers of the two complexes indicatedto African-American testers that there were no apartments available for rent while at thesame time telling white testers that there were. The manager also showed vacant apartmentsto white but not African-American testers, and informed testers of a policy of refusing torent to families with children.

Under the settlement the defendants will stop discriminating against African-Americansand families with children; provide training to their rental agents to prevent any furtherdiscriminatory practices; pay $75,000 to compensate victims of their discriminatorypractices; and, pay a $50,000 civil penalty (fine).

"For those who persist in victimizing others on the basis of race, the message isclear: get your checkbook ready," said William A. Keefer, U.S. Attorney in Miami."These settlements should warn apartment owners and operators who discriminate insouth Florida that the Justice Department is committed to enforcing fair housinglaws."

Since 1992, the Justice Department has brought eight housing discrimination suits inDade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. With this settlement, the Justice Department hadsettled all eight of the southern Florida cases for more than $2 million in damages, civilpenalties, and other monetary relief.