A Paramus landlord texted racial slurs to a black mom while refusing to rent her an apartment, said federal housing authorities who’ve charged him with discrimination.
John Graham “denied the opportunity to rent a two-bedroom apartment that was advertised on Craigslist because [the woman and her young son] are African-American,” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said.
Graham asked the woman to come see the apartment the same day that she called him after seeing the ad, the HUD complaint says. She said she couldn't and he hung up, it says.
Then came a text exchange included in the complaint:
Woman: Hello my name is [XXXX], do you have any pictures for the two-bedroom apartment? Can you text me the address also Saturday morning at 10 is that good.?
Graham: No thank you….Do not make the cut
Woman: What are you talking about
Graham: Apartment is rented….N[****]r free zone….White power white power
Woman: Learn how to wash your ass you racist asshole go kill yourself bastard
Graham: I’ll have my slave clean it for me….With her slave tone
Woman: Go finish f[*****]g your mother you retarded sick ass
The woman filed a complaint leading to a HUD investigation that produced the housing discrimination charge against Graham, officials said.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny housing to someone because of race or color.
“Fifty years after our nation passed a law prohibiting discrimination in housing, some individuals are still being denied a place to live because of the color of their skin,” said Anna María Farías, HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.
“No one looking for housing should be rejected because of race, much less be subjected to the indignity of racial slurs,” added J. Paul Compton, HUD’s general counsel.
An administrative law judge will hear the case unless either side wants to take it to federal court.
A judge who rules that discrimination occurred may award damages to the complainant, impose fines and order payment of attorney’s fees and other costs.
If the matter is decided in U.S. District Court, a federal judge may also award punitive damages.
Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act – which unites local communities, housing advocates and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights.
Anyone who believes he or she has been the victim of discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (text).
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