For Immediate Release
February 11, 2011
Contact: James Berry, Executive Director
Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia
Swarthmore, PA – The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP), a single mother, and her minor child settled federal housing discrimination complaints filed against Bucks County property management company Quality Realty Associates (QRA) and agents Vincent Quattrocchi, Louis Quattrocchi and Cecelia Quattrocchi.
In March 2009, a single mother contacted QRA to inquire about a “for rent” sign she had seen posted at a property in Bristol, PA. She spoke with Vincent Quattrocchi and was given detailed information about the available apartment. When she was asked how many people would be living with her, she told Mr. Quattrocchi that the apartment would be occupied by her and her seven-year-old daughter. She was then informed by Mr. Quattrocchi that he would prefer to rent to someone without children.
After unsuccessfully trying to find housing, the single mother and her child moved into the American Red Cross shelter in Levittown. She was separated from her daughter soon after, as she sent her daughter to stay with relatives while she remained at the shelter while she searched for more permanent housing. In the process of searching for housing, she called QRA and spoke with Mr. Quattrocchi once again and was again told that there was an available apartment but children were not allowed.
The single mother, upon being denied for the second time, contacted FHCSP. FHCSP conducted an investigation and confirmed that QRA did indeed have a policy of not renting to families with children. On March 3, 2010, the single mother and FHCSP filed housing discrimination complaints with HUD. On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a charge of discrimination on behalf of the single mother, her minor daughter, and FHCSP against QRA and the Quattrocchis for violating the familial status provision of the Fair Housing Act. HUD’s charge alleges that that QRA and the Quattrocchis enforced a discriminatory policy of not permitting children to live in their apartments. According to HUD’s charge, Louis Quattrocchi advised HUD that in the thirty to forty years that he has managed properties, he has never rented to families with children.
In response to HUD’s charge, QRA and the Quattrocchis agreed to pay a total of $31,000 to settle the HUD complaints. QRA and the Quattrocchis admitted to no wrongdoing and agreed to pay $20,000 to the single mother and her child, a civil penalty of $1,000, and $10,000 to FHCSP as a reimbursement for resources used to investigate this complaint and educate the public that discrimination against families with children is unlawful. In addition, QRA and the Quattrocchis have agreed to be trained in non-discriminatory practices by FHCSP and have agreed to develop a written, non-discriminatory rental policy to be distributed to all current and prospective tenants. “HUD stands with a working mother and child, when they are illegally denied housing,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act protects families with children so they can live in housing of their choice.”
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of familial status, or the presence of children under the age of 18 in the household. In addition, expectant mothers and any adult who is in the process of gaining legal custody of a child are covered under the familial status provision of the Fair Housing Act. Familial status has been protected under the Fair Housing Act since 1988. “Discrimination against families with children continues to occur at unacceptable rates in the Philadelphia region,” said James Berry, Executive Director of FHCSP. “Families with children forced into homeless shelters and unable to find permanent housing because they have been victims of housing discrimination is deplorable and illegal.”
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination in housing related transactions based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Anyone suspecting that they were denied housing for discriminatory reasons, or any housing providers who want information on how they can operate their business in a nondiscriminatory manner should contact FHCSP at 610-604-4411 or visit www.fhcsp.com.