Relman, Dane & Colfax's fair housing practice has included some of the most important and groundbreaking housing discrimination cases filed in state and federal courts. The firm has brought a wide range of fair housing cases, including challenges to discrimination by landlords in the rental of apartments, discrimination by real estate agents and companies in the sale of housing, the discriminatory provision of services by municipalities and other governments, discrimination in the construction of residential buildings that are inaccessible to people with disabilities, and racial and sexual harassment of tenants by landlords. Our cases involve all classes of people protected under the fair housing laws, including race, national origin, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, marital status, source of income, and sexual orientation. In addition to representing individuals, groups of individuals, and classes of people harmed by housing discrimination, the firm frequently brings cases on behalf of fair housing groups and other public interest organizations that have received and investigated complaints of discrimination. The firm's fair housing lawyers are frequently asked to draft amicus briefs to federal appellate courts considering important legal issues under the nation's fair housing laws.
National and Dallas Fair Housing Groups Settle Case Against Housing Developer
On June 20, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas approved the settlement of a housing discrimination lawsuit alleging disability discrimination by UDR, Inc., the designer and builder of several multifamily housing developments near Dallas, Texas.
The lawsuit, filed in September 2012 by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the North Texas Fair Housing Center, alleged that since at least 2007, UDR and its affiliates designed and/or constructed multifamily dwellings, and common- and public-use areas, without the accessibility features required by the Fair Housing Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, UDR will make major renovations to three apartment complexes in Texas and pay $87,000 as compensation and for attorney’s fees. It will also provide additional education about fair housing laws to current and future employees, and will provide notices to existing tenants of additional alterations that can be made at the tenant’s option, without cost to the tenant.
Whyte, et al. v. Alston Management, et al.
On February 7, 2012, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida awarded more than $1 million to seven families discriminatorily forced from their Central Florida homes because they had children living in their households. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded both compensatory and punitive damages to the former residents of Pelican Lake Village, a 117-unit apartment complex located in Pahokee, Florida. The families were forced out because the landlord wanted to rent the complex to a prison ministry seeking to house sex offenders there. To read more about the case, click here.
Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, et al. v. Julie Magee, et al.
On November 18, 2011, Relman, Dane & Colfax, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and LatinoJustice, filed a federal class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on behalf of three Alabama fair housing groups, two individual plaintiffs, and a class of victims, alleging that a provision of Alabama's anti-immigrant law, HB 56, violates the Fair Housing Act and the Supremacy and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and threatens to leave families across the state homeless. To read more about these cases, click here.
Carter v. Housing Authority of the Town of Winchester
On August 1, 2012, on behalf of Crystal Carter and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center (“CFHC”), Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal lawsuit against the Housing Authority of the Town of Winchester, Connecticut (“WHA”) alleging that WHA discriminates against African Americans and Hispanics by imposing a “residency requirement” in its allocation of Section 8 housing choice vouchers.
Ms. Carter, who is an African-American single mother, contacted WHA to request a Section 8 voucher application, hoping for a chance to move her family into a safe, stable, high-opportunity area. Although WHA's Section 8 waiting list was open, WHA refused to send Ms. Carter an application, telling her that she was not eligible because she did not live in Winchester or one of sixteen neighboring towns, the populations of which are all overwhelming White and non-Hispanic. WHA also told Ms. Carter that Winchester was not on a “bus-line,” that there were no jobs there, and that it was in the “woods.” WHA told Ms. Carter to apply to other housing programs in communities with considerably larger African-American and Hispanic populations.
The CFHC conducted an investigation confirming that WHA precludes prospective applicants who do not already live in Winchester or a neighboring town from applying to, or becoming beneficiaries of, its Section 8 voucher program. The CFHC's investigation also revealed that WHA's residency requirement disproportionately affects African-Americans and Hispanics and perpetuates segregation in Winchester and the surrounding towns, prohibiting tens of thousands of income-eligible African-American and Hispanic households from participating in WHA's Section 8 program.
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and Provident Realty v. St. Bernard Parish
On September 11, 2009, Relman, Dane & Colfax won its third motion for contempt in a year-long dispute against St. Bernard Parish and the St. Bernard Parish Council. The firm represented the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and Provident Realty Advisors, Inc. in opposing the Parish's continuing efforts to block Provident from building four mixed-income, affordable housing developments. The Court ordered the Parish to meet specific deadlines for approval of Provident's building permits, the final step necessary to begin construction, and ordered the imposition of sanctions of up to $10,000 per day if the Parish did not comply. For a copy of that opinion, click here. To read more about the case, click here.