For Immediate Release:
Ashley White, Equal Rights Center, 202.370.3204
EQUAL RIGHTS CENTER REACHES AGREEMENT WITH NATIONAL LEASING SERVICES PROVIDER, LEVEL ONE HOLDINGS, INC., TO PROMOTE EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY FOR VOUCHER HOLDERS
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2012: Today the Equal Rights Center (ERC)—a national non-profit civil rights organization—announced an agreement with Level One, Inc., a national apartment leasing call center resolving concerns that Housing Choice Voucher holders were provided with inaccurate information about the availability apartments at local rental properties owned and managed by Level One’s clients, in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.
“Housing Choice Vouchers affect far more than the ability to rent a home. Securing a home in one’s community of choice leads to healthier, safer lives, and the peace of mind that all families deserve,” said Don Kahl, Executive Director of the ERC. “By agreeing to ensure that its staff complies with both federal and local housing protections, Level One joins other industry leaders in recognizing that opening doors to voucher holders makes good business sense.”
The federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, the largest federal housing assistance program, provides vital support to low-income families by allowing them to move to safe and affordable housing anywhere in their region, so long as the rent is within an approved range. Voucher holders unable to secure an apartment because of discrimination lose their vouchers, and must reapply and be placed on a years-long waiting list—relegating them to unsafe or overcrowded housing, a shelter, or the streets.
As a result of its agreement with the ERC, Level One will ensure that all of its agents answering rental calls for properties located in the District of Columbia, and in Howard and Montgomery Counties in Maryland, will advise potential renters that vouchers are accepted for the payment of rent. Level One has also agreed to strengthen its existing fair housing policies, including providing additional fair housing training to employees, and to make a payment to the ERC for its costs and attorneys’ fees in reaching this agreement.
“Through this agreement, Level One is becoming a leader in promoting policies and practices that meet the applicable legal requirements,” said Megan K. Whyte, Director of the Fair Housing Project for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “While there are some variations in the fair housing protections provided by different states and counties, Level One is obligated to meet the requirements in every jurisdiction in which it operates and we appreciate Level One’s commitment to ensuring compliance.”
This agreement is part of the ERC’s eight-year initiative to identify and eliminate discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher holders in the greater D.C. metropolitan area. In 2004, the ERC began investigating and testing for source of income discrimination by housing providers in the area. Since then, the ERC has published three reports highlighting discrimination against voucher holders. As a result of its advocacy stemming from these reports, the ERC has reached agreements with more than 25 landlords and property managers, opening more than 17,500 apartment units in the greater D.C. metropolitan area to voucher holders.
The ERC was represented in this matter by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and Foley & Lardner, LLP.
Click here to read the ERC’s 2011 report Still in Search of Decent Housing: A Five Year Reflection on Discrimination Against Housing Choice Voucher Holders in the District of Columbia.
About the Equal Rights Center (www.equalrightscenter.org)
Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, disability rights, immigrant rights, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws.
About the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (www.washlaw.org/)
The Washington Lawyers&rsquo Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address issues of discrimination and entrenched poverty. Since its founding, the Committee has handled more than 5,000 cases on behalf of individuals and advocacy organizations in the areas of equal employment, fair housing, public accommodations, public education, asylum and refugee rights, and disability rights.
About Foley & Lardner, LLP (www.foley.com)
With approximately 900 attorneys in 21 offices, Foley & Lardner LLP provides award-winning business and legal insight to clients across the country and around the world. Foley’s team-based approach, innovative technology, and focus on value and client service are continually recognized by both clients and the legal industry.