ERC Testifies at 2023 DC Office of Attorney General Performance Oversight Hearing

By Susie McClannahan
February 22, 2023 

The DC Office of Attorney General (OAG) is the chief legal office for the District. It is tasked with enforcing the District’s laws, including the DC Human Rights Act, and protecting the interests of DC residents. The ERC has worked closely with the OAG, especially as part of our efforts to combat rampant source of income discrimination in the District, and appreciates the opportunity to testify to DC Council regarding the agency’s performance. Senior Fair Housing Rights Program Manager Susie McClannahan testified before the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety on February 22, 2023. The full recording of the hearing is available on YouTube.

Full transcript of the ERC’s testimony:

Equal Rights Center’s Testimony Regarding the Performance of the DC Office of Attorney General

Testimony Delivered Via Email at and Abridged Version Read at the Public Hearing

The Equal Rights Center (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. For many years, the ERC has conducted intakes with District residents who are alleging housing discrimination, investigated individual claims and systemic forms of housing discrimination, pursued enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA) as needed, and conducted education and outreach about fair housing protections and requirements. The ERC appreciates the opportunity to provide testimony for the performance oversight hearing of the Office of Attorney General (OAG).

Over the last few years, the Equal Rights Center has worked closely with the OAG, especially as part of our efforts to combat rampant source of income discrimination in the District. Fighting discrimination against housing voucher holders is critical to desegregating the city. While Black people constitute 48 percent of the city’s population,[1] over 90 percent of voucher holders in DC are Black.[2] These demographics are inextricably linked to a long history of housing policies that fostered wealth building for white families in neighborhoods rich with opportunity and that often pushed Black families into exploitative, substandard rental housing in neighborhoods starved of resources. As a result, a landlord’s denial of a housing voucher is 71 times more likely to exclude Black renters than white renters in the District.[3] As such, discrimination against housing voucher holders in D.C. is tantamount to race discrimination.

The ERC appreciates the OAG’s strong enforcement of the DC Human Rights Act, which is playing a critical role in stamping out systemic discrimination and promoting fair housing in the city. In 2018, the ERC identified about 130 advertisements in DC with likely discriminatory language based on source of income, such as “No vouchers accepted” and “no section 8.” The ERC brought its concerns about rampant discriminatory advertising based on source of income to the OAG’s Civil Rights Section. As a result of these conversations, the OAG announced lawsuits against 16 real estate companies and professionals engaged in illegal source of income discrimination, including the publication of discriminatory advertising.[4] The OAG has also partnered with rental websites, including[5] and Zillow,[6] to prevent ads with discriminatory language based on source of income from being posted on these platforms. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of advertisements posted for properties in the District containing discriminatory language against housing voucher holders.

In October 2022, the OAG announced a $10 million civil penalty—the largest civil penalty in a housing discrimination case in US history—as part of a landmark settlement agreement with Daro.[7] The OAG had sued Daro in 2020, alleging that the property management company had illegally charged Housing Choice Voucher holders extra fees and posted discriminatory housing advertisements. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to permanently stop managing residential properties in the District and the company’s president forfeited her DC real estate license. OAG’s ability and willingness to secure such impactful relief through this single agreement will likely have positive ripple effects throughout the community when it comes to stamping out illegal source of income discrimination in the city.

Addressing deeply entrenched housing segregation requires sustained, dedicated action by DC government to enforce local residents’ fair housing rights. We appreciate the commitment and leadership shown by the OAG to hold entities who discriminate accountable for their actions and showcase the District’s commitment to fair housing. Former Attorney General Karl Racine set a strong precedent for the OAG as a leader in pursuing civil rights enforcement and furthering fair housing in the District. We hope that the OAG under the new leadership of Attorney General Schwalb will continue with this important work just as vigorously, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the OAG under Attorney General Schwalb’s leadership.


[1] United States Census Bureau, “American Fact Finder,”

[2] US Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Picture of Subsidized Households,”

[3] The Equal Rights Center v. The Lenkin Company Management Inc. et al, Complaint, 21 Apr. 2017,

[4] “AG Racine Sues 16 Real Estate Companies and Professionals for Illegal Housing Discrimination Against District Voucher Holders,” 23 July 2020,

[5] “AG Racine and Announce New Effort to Fight Housing Discrimination in Online Rental Listings,” 30 Oct. 2019,

[6] “AG Racine and Zillow Partner to Target Discriminatory Online Housing Listings,” 20 Nov. 2019,

[7] “AG Racine Announces Largest Civil Penalty in a Housing Discrimination Case in U.S. History,” 20 Oct. 2022,


The Equal Rights Center (ERC) — a national non-profit organization — 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

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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