Contact person: Joe Wincze, Fair Housing Association of Connecticut (203)576-8323
(Bristol, Connecticut, May. 12, 2004) "I can not give you the apartment because you don't qualify for a two-bedroom because you have two children of opposite sex who need their own bedrooms!" This was the response Isabel Luna received when she contacted the New Cambridge Apartments in Bristol, CT when she attempted to apply for a vacant apartment in the summer of 2002. According to Ms. Luna's sworn affidavit, she was also told by the rental agent- Patricia Folino- that this was the company policy and they could not offer her a three-bedroom unit because they didn't have any. Now Ms. Luna has received something else from Ms. Folino and the owners of New Cambridge Apartments-- a settlement of $15,000 as compensation for an alleged act of discrimination in denying her the apartment!
Ms. Luna strongly believed the policy articulated by Ms. Folina was not only unfair but illegal; and after getting in touch with the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut, she was assisted in filing a complaint with the CT Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities. The complaint actually listed three reasons for Ms. Luna believing she was the victim of a discriminatory act. In addition to claiming discrimination because of her minor children (familial status), she also indicated she had been unfairly treated because of her "source of income" (the fact she was a Section 8 voucher-holder) and her "national origin" (hispanic). Ms. Luna claims an agent in the New Cambridge Apartments rental office attempted to discourage her from applying by remarking, "If I were you, I would look for another place."
Following a complete investigation by the CT Commission in April, 2003, a determination was made that an act of discrimination had been committed by Patricia Folino of New Cambridge and her employer- Suburban Greater Hartford Realty Corporation- in their treatment of Ms. Luna. In fact, it was discovered during the investigation that not only did there exist a policy for separate bedrooms, but also a policy restricting children from residing on the fourth floor! Ten months later an agreement was reached between the parties which was successfully negotiated by Ms. Luna's attorney- Jennifer Vickery of Bridgeport. The settlement included a provision for affirmative marketing in the ads placed by New Cambridge Apartments and $15,000 to be paid to Ms. Luna.
Joe Wincze- President of the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut- who had assisted Ms. Luna with the gathering of evidence as well as the filing of her complaint, believed the representatives of New Cambridge needlessly dragged the case out which hurt them in the end. Wincze points out that considering the well-documented evidence against them, the respondents would have been wiser to settle a lot sooner than they did. Not only now is there an official "CAUSE FINDING" against them in the record books; but instead of settling for possibly a few thousand, they are settling for several thousand dollars nearly two years later!
Wincze went on to say, "It was actually a case of pay me now or you will definitely end up paying me later! Maybe they thought they could wear Ms. Luna out, but to her credit and with the help of her attorney she was able to wait them out and by being patient and steadfast, she ended up reducing the opponent's strategy to nothing more than a loud backfire!"