The owners and operators of two large Clark, New Jersey apartment complexes, which account for nearly 50 percent of the rental housing market in the city, have agreed to pay $300,000 in damages and penalties for allegedly discriminating against minorities.
The agreement, filed on April 2 in U.S. District Court in Newark, resolves two Justice Department suits filed in December 1997. The Department asserted that the owners and operators of Hillcrest Village and Lexington Village violated the Fair Housing Act by falsely informing African-Americans about the availability of apartments to discourage them from renting.
Under the terms of the settlement decree, the defendants will take the following actions:
- establish a fund of $250,000 to compensate victims of the defendants' allegedly discriminatory rental practices;
- pay $50,000 in civil penalties;
- pay any money remaining from the victim fund to the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey to further fair housing activities;
- include notices of nondiscrimination in their advertising and public statements; and,
- provide fair housing training for their employees and rental agents.
The Justice Department will identify victims through a claims process to conducted by the Department during the next nine months.
"This settlement signals a continuing commitment on the part of the Department of Justice to ensure that no individual in this community is denied an equal opportunity to obtain the housing of his or her choice" said Faith Hochberg, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
The two lawsuits were part of a group of four in New Jersey that the Department developed through its testing program. Under its nationwide program, the Justice Department has filed 46 cases.