The Justice Department announced today that the owners and operators of the Williams Trailer Court mobile home park in Marion, Illinois, had agreed to pay $75,000 to settle allegations that they discriminated against African Americans and families with children, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The settlement was approved today by the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
The settlement agreement resolves a lawsuit alleging that the owners and operators of the park, located at 200 East Patrick Street in Marion, Illinois, violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent mobile homes to African Americans and families with children. The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s fair housing testing program. Testing is a simulation of a housing transaction that compares responses given by housing providers to different types of home-seekers to determine whether illegal discrimination is occurring. The testing conducted by the department revealed that the manager and part owner of the park, Lyle Williams, falsely told African Americans inquiring about renting mobile homes that no homes were available, while telling white home-seekers that such mobile homes were available. The testing also revealed that Williams unlawfully discouraged families with children from living there. In addition to Lyle Williams, the lawsuit also names as defendants the park’s other two owners, Kyle Williams and David Williams.
“The right of people to live in the housing of their choice regardless of their race or whether they have children is fundamental,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which seeks to protect that right.”
“It is both shocking and sad that in this day and age any person would try to discriminate against a fellow citizen on the basis of race,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton of the Southern District of Illinois. “Neither the Department of Justice nor my office will tolerate such behavior. Opportunity and justice must remain equal for all.”
Under the terms of the settlement, defendants will establish a settlement fund in the amount of $45,000 to compensate victims of the discriminatory practices. Defendants also will pay $30,000 in civil penalties to the United States. In addition, the agreement requires defendants to implement a nondiscrimination policy, establish new nondiscriminatory application and rental procedures, and undergo training on the Fair Housing Act. Persons who believe they may have been discriminated against at Williams Trailer Court should contact the department at 1-800-896-7743, extension 3, or by email at [email protected]
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 www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at [email protected]
or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.