D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is suing a local real property and property management corporation over claims that it discriminated in opposition to renters with housing vouchers and refused to just accept payments from the city’s speedy re-housing program.
Advertisements for Southeast D.C. Residences run with the aid of Maryland-based totally Curtis Investment Group blanketed the language “**NOT ACCEPTING VOUCHERS AT THIS TIME**” and “we aren’t accepting any vouchers or speedy rehousing” as recently as this month on both its very own internet site and 1/3-birthday celebration websites like Apartments.Com, Racine’s lawsuit alleges. The grievance includes photographs of the advertisements in query. D.C.’s Human Rights Act prohibits housing discrimination primarily based on a person’s supply of earnings.
The lawsuit calls at the court to prevent Curtis from this exercise with an injunction, and to impose civil consequences on the organization. Curtis has not responded to a request for comment.
About 10,500 D.C. Households use housing vouchers, a federally funded software that will pay a part of a qualifying tenant’s lease to private landlords. Additionally, the city runs a speedy re-housing application for humans and households experiencing homelessness, wherein the D.C. Department of Human Services pays the hire directly to the landlord for as much as a year, with participants then paying a percent of that rent to the metropolis.
While it’s unlawful to discriminate against tenants who refuse to lease to folks who use federal condo help vouchers or are part of the rapid re-housing program, landlords and condo agencies in D.C. Hold to achieve this in undeniable language in housing classified ads. Approximately 15 percentage of D.C. Landlords refuse to simply accept vouchers, in line with an Urban Institute have a look at, and a WUSA 9 investigation from September found that extra than one hundred Craigslist housing ads inside the District covered phrases that explicitly stated vouchers weren’t general. At-huge Councilmember Elissa Silverman delivered legislation on the D.C. Council in March that might further penalize landlords who discriminate in opposition to voucher holders.
This isn’t Racine’s first time suing belongings management businesses for allegedly refusing to rent to humans the usage of housing vouchers—he filed a lawsuit towards Evolve and Evolve Property Management for the equal motive in November. And those court cases are part of a broader attempt from Racine’s workplace to move after terrible landlords for issues like building overlook. Coupled with the complaint filed in opposition to Curtis Investment Group, Racine despatched letters to housing ad hosts Craigslist, Zillow, and CoStar Group, which owns Apartments.Com, to call for meetings to talk about how the agencies “can assist make certain that classified ads that violate the prohibition on source-of-income discrimination either do not seem in your platforms or are fast eliminated.”
The most current lawsuit marks the start of the D.C. AG’s newly released civil rights division, for which the D.C. Council gave Racine the cross-beforehand and investment. The new division already has two attorneys and will have extra attorneys plus an investigator when the cash from the council comes through in October. In July, the office is website hosting a chain of listening classes to learn about residents’ studies with discrimination.
“Today’s movements illustrate that the Office of the Attorney General is making civil rights a concern going ahead,” Racine tells DCist. “We’re in a housing disaster. Housing is a valuable commodity and it isn’t always being disbursed equally and, frequently, it’s now not being distributed lawfully … Laws are on the books and we intend to implement them.”
Racine says the new department is a reaction to the uptick in hate crimes in the District and to what he deems as the modern-day disasters of the federal government in protective residents’ civil rights. “There is no doubt approximately the truth that the federal authorities has in large part removed itself from prosecuting discriminatory action,” he says. “It’s incumbent on states and jurisdictions like the District of Columbia to fill that vacuum.”