FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2022
ON FHA ANNIVERSARY, EQUAL RIGHTS CENTER ALLEGES LOCAL APARTMENT COMPLEX ENGAGING IN ILLEGAL RACE & SOURCE OF INCOME DISCRIMINATION
Test revealed refusal to rent to voucher holders, also violates District’s consumer protection law
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Today, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) filed suit against Adams Investment Group, LLC and Adams-Cathedral, LLC in DC Superior Court. The complaint is based on a civil rights testing investigation which revealed Defendants’ unlawful refusal to accept vouchers as a source of income to pay the rent at Adams View apartments in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of the District. Additionally, ERC alleges in its complaint that Defendants’ policy or practice of refusing vouchers has an adverse and disparate impact based on race because, in the District, Black renters are significantly more likely to use a voucher to pay all or a portion of the rent than white renters. The complaint alleges that Defendants’ conduct violates the DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA), which prohibits discrimination based on race and lawful source of income, and violates the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DCCPPA). The lawsuit seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.
ERC Executive Director Kate Scott comments, “Today marks 54 years since President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law and in spite of that, neighborhoods in the District exhibit South African apartheid era levels of racial segregation. Source of income discrimination as detailed in the complaint we filed today is a primary modern-day mechanism continuing to drive those outcomes.”
The ERC is a civil rights organization that identifies and seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations in its home community of Greater Washington, D.C. and nationwide. The organization conducted a fair housing test of Adams View after it received a tip from a DC Housing Authority employee that Adams View employees told both she and a voucher holding DCHA client that vouchers would not be accepted at the property. ERC’s recorded test confirmed these allegations, and as a result, ERC undertook extensive efforts to counteract the harm caused by the discrimination by providing education and outreach about available civil rights protections to various stakeholder groups.
Adams View is in the Cleveland Park neighborhood in the Northwest Ward 3 of D.C., where white residents constitute the majority of residents — in the census tract where Adams View is located, white residents represent 76 percent of the population, whereas Black residents represent only five percent of the population in the neighborhood. By contrast, Black residents represent approximately 46 percent of the District’s overall population.
Though Black individuals represent about 46 percent of the District’s overall population, approximately 93 percent of Housing Choice Voucher recipients in the District identify as Black. There are approximately 15,158 Black participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program in the District, as compared to only approximately 162 white participants. This represents a 93 to one disparity in the number of voucher holders who are Black, as compared to those who are white, which means that Adams View’s policy or practice of refusing to rent to voucher holders is more likely to exclude and adversely impact Black renters than white renters.
ERC is represented in this matter by Handley Farrah & Anderson. Partner Matthew Handley added, “Source of income discrimination in the greater Washington, D.C. area is a pernicious and persistent problem, further aggravating the affordable housing crisis that has plagued the city for years. This lawsuit aims to stop this practice.”
The full complaint is available here.
Kate Scott, Executive Director
Equal Rights Center
firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 370-3220
ABOUT THE EQUAL RIGHTS CENTER: The ERC is a civil rights organization that identifies and seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations in its home community of Greater Washington DC and nationwide. The ERC’s core strategy for identifying unlawful and unfair discrimination is civil rights testing. When the ERC identifies discrimination, it seeks to eliminate it through the use of testing data to educate the public and business community, support policy advocacy, conduct compliance testing and training, and, if necessary, take enforcement action. For more information, please visit www.equalrightscenter.org.
ABOUT HANDLEY FARRAH & ANDERSON: Handley Farah & Anderson are lawyers who seek to improve the world. Based in Washington, D.C., they fight for: workers deprived of wages, consumers deceived about products, tenants denied access to housing, farmers mistreated by processors, parents deprived of adequate parental leave, investors who were defrauded, small businesses harmed by antitrust violations, persons with disabilities denied access, whistleblowers who uncover fraud, and women and communities of color subject to discrimination.