HOPE Press Release - Race Discrimination Suit Settled

2100 Manchester, Bldg. B, Suite 1070
Wheaton, IL 60187-4579
(630) 690-6500
Fax: (630) 690-6586

For Immediate Release Contact: Bernard J. Kleina

Race Discrimination Suit Settled

Wheaton, IL  -- HOPE FAIR HOUSING CENTER today announced the settlement of a Department of Housing and Urban Development Complaint [HUD] against Barbara Civik and Kenneth Civik of Wauconda, Illinois on behalf of a inter-racial couple who alleged that they were told they could not rent a house because one of them was black. The Civiks own and rent several single-family homes and townhomes. The Kings filed a complaint with HUD. HOPE was contacted by Cheryl Geder, a HUD Intake Specialist, who requested that HOPE perform tests in the case. Two of HOPE's testers were allegedly asked their race. When the testers responded that they were black, both claim that they were told they would not be shown the home because of their race. To settle the case, Eric and Beth King and HOPE Fair Housing Center v. Barbara Civik and Kenneth Civik, HUD Case Nos. 05-98-0675 and 05-98-9789-8, the Civiks agreed to affirmatively market their rentals, to attend fair housing training, to submit monitoring data for 5 years and to pay $50,000 to the Kings and $15,000 to HOPE. Both the Kings and HOPE were represented by Jeffrey Taren of Kinoy, Taren, Geraghty and Potter of Chicago.

In their complaint, the Kings, an inter-racial couple moving to the Chicago area from the South, stated that they went to look at one of the Civik's rental properties in Elgin during March of 1998. The rental was advertised in the Chicago Tribune. They alleged that when they asked to apply for the house, Ms. Civik informed them that she would not rent to them because they are an inter-racial couple. The plaintiffs claim that Ms. Civik suggested that they should look at Oak Park or Maywood because "they are more accepting of that kind of thing there."

"I was just shocked by her blatancy, " said Eric King of her comments. Beth King added, "After what she said started to sink in, I just had a nagging feeling of hurt. We've been together for 11 years and we never experienced any problems when we lived in the South. For this to be my first experience in the Midwest was really astonishing."

The Civiks denied the allegations of the Kings and HOPE.

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a person because of their race in the rental of housing. The Act bars discrimination of the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. It covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.

In announcing the settlement, Bernard Kleina, Director of HOPE Fair Housing Center, stated that "this victory is the result of a partnership between HUD and HOPE Fair Housing Center, working together to uncover and eliminate housing discrimination whenever and wherever it occurs. This successful ongoing partnership brings hope to many who are victimized by housing discrimination."

HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo said "The message of this settlement is that housing discrimination does not pay. Such acts are outrageous, illegal and intolerable. We will not allow illegal discrimination to stop families across this nation from living in any home, in any apartment or in any neighborhood they can afford." Secretary Cuomo added: "I'm proud that as America this year commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, passed as a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, we are able to honor him not just with words but with action that carries forward his fight against discrimination."

HOPE is a non-profit agency, which serves DuPage, Kane and 28 other counties in northern and north central Illinois.