The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reached an agreement with Chilton Associates Ltd., owner of Peachtree Apartments in Clanton, Ala., and its manager Sunbelt Management Co., settling allegations that they maintained a policy of discriminating against prospective Hispanic tenants. HUD alleged that Peachtree Apartments required that prospective Hispanic tenants provide documentation of their immigration status, while not asking the same of non-Hispanic individuals.
The settlement stems from a complaint initiated by HUD after the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center (CAFHC) informed HUD that fair housing tests it had conducted suggested discrimination at the property. In one test, the property manager of Peachtree Apartments allegedly asked a CAFHC tester who was posing as a prospective tenant whether she was Hispanic. When the tester replied that she was Hispanic, the manager allegedly required that the tester produce a green card or ‘work visa.’ The manager also allegedly required the same identification from the prospective tenant's mother and two sons.
‘Where you come from does not dictate where you can live,’ says John Trasvina, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. ‘Every person has the right to housing free from discrimination based on ethnicity. We are pleased that this company has taken steps to comply with the Fair Housing Act.’
Under the settlement agreement, Chilton Associates will adopt nondiscriminatory admission policies, develop a plan to market housing opportunities to populations with limited English proficiency in its service areas and provide translation services, and administer fair housing training to its employees and contractors. These provisions will apply to 9,406 housing units at 264 properties in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Chilton Associates will also donate $5,000 to the CAFHC to support fair housing enforcement and education, donate $5,000 to a local Alabama nonprofit organization that serves the Hispanic community, and conduct periodic testing to ensure that it is providing its services to every applicant equally, regardless of national origin.