FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 10, 2024
Equal Rights Center Files Suit Against Related Companies et. al, Alleging Refusal to Accept Housing Choice Vouchers at D.C. Apartments
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Today, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court alleging that Related Companies, L.P., Related Management Company L.P. (collectively “Related”), 950 South Capitol Owner LLC, and 23 I LLC unlawfully refused to accept housing vouchers at its D.C. residential apartment properties, including 10K Apartments and One Hill South. The ERC alleges that Related’s conduct constitutes unlawful housing discrimination in violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) and the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DCCPPA).
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. Identifying and eliminating source of income discrimination has been a top priority for the ERC for many years.
ERC Executive Director Kate Scott comments, “In a city as racially and economically diverse as Washington, D.C., we believe everyone should have an equal opportunity to secure housing. Though DC’s source of income protection has now been in place for decades, landlords continue to discriminate against voucher holders. We hope this lawsuit sends a message to DC housing providers that such discriminatory practices will not be tolerated.”
The complaint alleges that in early 2023, a community organization alerted the ERC that an agent at 10K Apartments, a Related property, had denied their client a tour of a unit advertised on their website within the Housing Choice Voucher payment standard because the client planned to use a voucher to pay their rent. Subsequently, the ERC conducted a civil rights testing investigation.
During the investigation, a Related Leasing Consultant stated to an ERC tester that while they accept vouchers, the “voucher would also need to cover all utilities and a month’s security deposit.” The ERC tester clarified that the voucher covered 100% of the rent, received a utility allowance, and had assistance for the security deposit, as is the case for many Voucher holders in the District. The Consultant replied: “there are plenty of other buildings in the neighborhood that are setup for residents with vouchers, most have 20% of their buildings put aside. I’ve been here 3 years and we haven’t gotten one to work in that time.” After the tester attempted one last time to clarify if they could use a voucher at the property, the Consultant stated: “Truthfully I wouldn’t send them [voucher holders], I am rather confident it wouldn’t work.”
In its complaint, ERC alleges that Related and its affiliates unlawfully deny Voucher holders, impose an unlawful requirement that vouchers cover the entirety of the monthly rent, security deposit, and utilities, and unlawfully indicate a preference or limitation for consumers who do not have vouchers.
The ERC is represented in this matter by Handley Farah & Anderson.
The ERC seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief through the lawsuit.
The full complaint is available at the site linked here.
Kate Scott, Executive Director
Equal Rights Center
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 D.C. 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 FARAH & 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.