Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mississippi Mobile Home Park Owner and Managers

WASHINGTON, DC – January 19, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department today announced that Mississippi  property owner Indigo Investments LLC, has agreed to pay $50,000 in  monetary damages and civil penalties to settle the government’s Fair  Housing Act lawsuit. The government alleged that Indigo and its former  employees, Barbara A. Hamilton and Edward L. Hamilton, discriminated  against African-American residents and members of interracial households  at Homestead Mobile Home Village in Gulfport, Miss., which Indigo  formerly owned and the Hamiltons formerly managed.<!–more–>

The lawsuit originated as a result of a complaint filed with the  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by an African-American  couple who moved to the mobile home park after being displaced by  Hurricane Katrina. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a  charge of discrimination, and the case was referred to the Justice  Department, which filed the lawsuit in June 2009.

“The law protects all individuals from harassment and discrimination in  housing on the basis of race,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney  General for the Civil Rights Division. “Unlawful discrimination is  particularly abhorrent when directed against those who have been  displaced by natural disaster. The Department of Justice is committed to  ensuring equal housing opportunities for all, no matter their housing  circumstances.”

“Hurricane Katrina devastated the lives of many people on the  Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Those persons on whose behalf relief was  obtained in this case were doubly affected – first by the hurricane and  then in the very homes where they sought refuge when they were subjected  to discriminatory treatment on the basis of race.  It is never right to  discriminate on any basis and this office will remain vigilant to  protect the citizens of south Mississippi from unlawful discrimination  in housing on any protected basis,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern  District of Mississippi John M. Dowdy.

“Losing one’s home to any disaster is disruptive enough without facing  housing discrimination when trying to find a new home to restart your  life, ” said John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and  Equal Opportunity.  “HUD and the Department of Justice continue our  joint enforcement actions to eliminate illegal housing discrimination in  all forms.”

Under the settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for  the Southern District of Mississippi, Indigo Investments LLC, will pay  $45,000 to 12 individuals and $5,000 to the United States as a civil  penalty. The settlement also provides that if Indigo obtains any  interest in rental dwellings in the future, it must adopt  non-discrimination policies; require its members, employees and agents  to receive fair housing training; and submit to further monitoring by  the government. The agreement prohibits Homestead’s former managers,  Barbara and Edward Hamilton, from owning or managing rental properties.

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice  Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in  housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status,  national origin and disability.

More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at <a href=”http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/January/www.justice.gov/crt”>www.justice.gov/crt</a>.  Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing  discrimination may call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at  1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) gov  or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair  Housing Act can also be found at <a href=”http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/January/www.justice.gov/crt/housing”>www.justice.gov/crt/housing</a> or <a href=”http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing”>www.hud.gov/fairhousing</a>.

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The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) provides access to information on law enforcement, public safety, crime control and prevention, and the fair and impartial  administration of justice

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202-353-1555 - Office of the Attorney General

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