Marshallese Tenants Obtain Compensation for Alleged Housing Discrimination in Springdale
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Legal Aid of Arkansas has completed a multi-forum case against the owners and property management company of Springdale Ridge Apartments in Springdale. The case alleged systemic housing discrimination against Marshallese tenants.
The complaints alleged that Springdale Ridge evicted several tenants because they were Marshallese. The assistant manager of the complex was aware of these evictions and sought to inform the tenants of their fair housing rights. Legal Aid became aware of the situation from Springdale Ridge’s assistant manager. Upon investigation, Legal Aid came to believe that the assistant manager had been fired for contacting the Consulate General of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to report the housing discrimination. Legal Aid then identified multiple Marshallese tenants complaining of wrongful eviction, abusive behavior, excessive fees and random searches by management.
Legal Aid filed discrimination complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of two Marshallese families and the former assistant manager. Legal Aid worked with HUD’s Office of Systemic Investigations to secure multiple conciliation agreements to resolve the matter. The agreements provide for nearly $70,000 in cash payments and debt forgiveness to the aggrieved parties. The agreements also require the owners and managers of the complex to affirmatively market the apartments to the Marshallese community and track racial statistics of their tenants to ensure that discrimination is not occurring.
The Fair Housing Act protects home buyers and renters from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. It also prohibits housing providers from retaliating against individuals who exercise their fair housing rights or who help others to do so. With funding from HUD, Legal Aid’s fair housing project works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through education, outreach, public policy initiatives, advocacy and enforcement. Individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination, may call Legal Aid’s fair housing helpline at 1-870-338-9834 for assistance.
Legal Aid is a nonprofit, public interest law firm that provides free legal services to low-income Arkansans with civil legal problems. To apply for assistance or for more information, call 1-800-952-9243 or visit www.arlegalaid.org.