DoJ sues Alabaman housing authority for racial discrimination

December 1, 2020

By a Biometrica staffer

The Housing Authority of Ashland, Alabama, violated the Fair Housing Act by intentionally discriminating on the basis of race or color against applicants for housing, the US Department of Justice alleged in a lawsuit.

In its lawsuit, the department alleged that the Housing Authority denied African-American applicants the opportunity to live in overwhelmingly White housing complexes, while steering White applicants away from properties whose residents were predominantly African-American.

Southern Development Company of Ashland Ltd, Southern Development Company of Ashland #2 Ltd and Southern Development Company LLC, which are the private owners and managing agent of one of those housing complexes, have also been named as defendants, the department said in a statement.

Since at least 2012, the defendants have maintained segregated housing properties by denying African-American housing applicants the opportunity to live at three overwhelmingly White housing complexes – known as Ashland Heights, Clay Circle and East Side.

At the same time, they were denying White applicants the opportunity to live at West Side and Pine View, two properties whose residents are predominantly African-American. All of these complexes are located in Ashland, Alabama.

The lawsuit seeks damages to compensate victims, civil penalties to the government to vindicate the public interest, and a court order barring future discrimination and requiring action to correct the effects of the defendants’ discrimination.

“On April 11, 1968, one week after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the United States enacted the Fair Housing Act to outlaw race, color, and other forms of discrimination in housing. Denying people housing opportunities because of their race or color is a shameful and blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The United States has made great strides toward Dr. King’s dream of a nation where we will be judged by content of our character and not by the color of our skin. The dream remains at least partially unfulfilled because we have not completely overcome the scourge of racial bias in housing,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.