U.S. Attorney’s Office secures agreement in race discrimination lawsuit involving Atlanta-based property owners and management company

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

ATLANTA – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has approved a consent decree resolving the department’s Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging race discrimination in housing by the owners and manager of two rental properties in Cedartown, Georgia. The defendants are Crimson Management LLC; Benefield Housing Partnership (doing business as Cedartown Commons); and Cedartown Housing Associates (doing business as Cedarwood Village).

“Access to housing opportunities remains unequal for African-American housing applicants all too often,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “My office will continue to devote resources to eradicate this injustice and we will continue to hold housing providers accountable for racial discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”

“It is unacceptable that race discrimination in housing persists in our nation more than a half-century after President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our civil rights laws by holding housing providers responsible when they perpetuate racial segregation or otherwise engage in prohibited discrimination.”

The lawsuit, filed in May 2020, alleged that the defendants steered Black housing applicants who are elderly or have a disability away from Cedarwood Village, a predominantly white housing complex, to Cedartown Commons, a housing complex that is inferior in appearance, location and amenities to Cedarwood Village.  Most residents of Cedartown Commons are Black. The lawsuit further alleged that the defendants subjected Black residents who are elderly or have a disability to less favorable rental terms, conditions and privileges as compared to similarly situated white tenants. The defendants’ policies allegedly perpetuated segregation at the two properties.    

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This case was jointly litigated by attorneys of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Under the court-approved decree, the defendants are required to pay $83,000 in damages to three former tenants who were allegedly harmed as a result of the defendants’ racial steering; pay a civil penalty to the United States; implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures; complete fair-housing training; and submit periodic reports to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status.  More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.  Individuals may report sexual harassment or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov,  or submitting a report online at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.  Individuals may also report such discrimination by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aileen Bell-Hughes, Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator, handled this matter for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.