With UCONN students’ help, CT Fair Housing Center settles race and family case for $35,000

The owners and managers of an apartment complex in Hartford, Connecticut have agreed to pay $35,000 to the Connecticut Fair Housing Center (CFHC) to resolve a federal lawsuit alleging housing discrimination. The complaint asserted that Parkview Towers on Asylum Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut discriminated on both the bases of race and familial status.

African American renters were steered to other properties and agents made anti-kids comments

Results of testing conducted by the CFHC showed that African American homeseekers were steered to other properties owned by the Defendants, and parents with children over age three were denied the opportunity to rent one-bedroom units at the complex. Employees at Parkview Towers also allegedly said that they did not like to rent apartments to families with children.

In addition to the monetary settlement amount, the agreement included significant injunctive relief. This relief includes fair housing training for the Defendants and their employees, the adoption and maintenance of nondiscriminatory written rental policies, the prominent posting of vacancies in their rental office, affirmative advertising to advise applicants that they provide equal housing opportunity, and the maintenance of records relating to applications and tenant composition over a period of time.

The Defendants have confirmed that they will rent units and make them available to all applicants, communicate with all applicants, and disclose the availability of apartments to all applicants on an equal basis without regard to race, color, or family status, as the fair housing laws of Connecticut and the United States require.

The CFHC originally filed a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and then proceeded to file a lawsuit in federal district court. The named Defendants in the case included J.R. Gillett Realty Corporation and I.S.D.S. Harford Properties. J.R. Gillett Realty owns Parkview Towers, and I.S.D.S. manages the complex.

The CFHC was represented by law students participating in the UCONN School of Law Civil Rights Clinic. Law student Brandon Freeman said, “We worked with the defendants to resolve this case  hoping that it would send a message to other housing providers that discrimination is illegal,  and that they need to review their rental procedures to make sure they comport with the civil rights laws.” Supervising attorneys Jon Bauer and Elizabeth McCormick oversaw the UCONN law students in the case.

Marian Kent, former executive director of CFHC, said, “Housing discrimination is a serious problem in Hartford and throughout the state. Discrimination keeps people from being able to choose the neighborhoods they live in.” Kent is now the executive director of the Fair Housing Partnership in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Erin Kemple is the current executive director of the CFHC.

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is a private nonprofit corporation located in Hartford, with a satellite office in New Haven. It investigates housing discrimination complaints and advocates for people who have experienced housing discrimination in an effort to open up full housing choice for all residents of Connecticut. The CFHC provides free legal assistance to residents throughout Connecticut.

Connecticut Fair Housing Center v. I.S.D.S Harford
Properties Corp., No. 3:00CV01867(JCH) (D. Conn.)
The Honorable Janet C. Hall, U.S. District Judge
Jon Bauer and Elizabeth McCormick,
attorneys for Plaintiffs
Federal complaint filed: September 29, 2000
Complaint Settled and Dismissed: October 4, 2002