Landlord Accused of Segregating Apartment Buildings Pays $45,000

Contact: Marian Kent
              (413) 539-9796
              Housing Discrimination Project
              57 Suffolk St.
              Holyoke, MA 01040

Clement and Gisele Pin of Holyoke, Massachusetts have paid Ivelisse Vicente of Holyoke $45,000 to settle a lawsuit which alleged that the Pins had intentionally segregated two apartment buildings in Holyoke by national origin, into a "white" building and a "Puerto Rican" building.

In August, 1998, Ms. Vicente had responded to an advertisement in a newspaper for an apartment which was owned by the Pins. Mr. Pin told Ms. Vicente, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, that he had no apartments available for her and that the apartment she wanted was too small for her family. Ms. Vicente ultimately moved to a less desirable neighborhood when she was rejected by the Pins.

Ms. Vicente works for the Housing Discrimination Project, Inc. ("HDP") in Holyoke and requested that HDP investigate her case. Within two weeks of Ms. Vicente's call, HDP conducted a fair housing "testing" investigation into the Pins' rental practices at properties owned by Mr. Pin on Essex Street and Wolcott Street. Each time a Puerto Rican tester called, he/she was told that no apartments were available. Each time a non-Puerto Rican white tester called, the tester was shown an apartment on Wolcott Street, the "white" building, by the Pins. The calls were made within hours of each other.

"The preparation for this trial showed that in 1999, 6% of all tenants at Wolcott Street were Puerto Rican while 61% of all tenants at Essex Street were Puerto Rican" said Joel Feldman of the law firm of Heisler, Fields & Feldman, P.C., which represented Ms. Vicente. "The complaint in this case alleged that the Pins were segregating their Puerto Rican tenants from their non-Puerto Rican tenants, and the evidence in this case supported that conclusion."

"I hope that this settlement will stop discrimination by landlords who think about discriminating against Puerto Ricans or anyone else," said Ms. Vicente. "I am glad to know that my organization, HDP, exists to help anyone who believes they have faced discrimination."