Tuesday, December 19, 2023

HUD Settlement Requires Oklahoma Landlord to Pay $300,000 to Discrimination Victims

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement-Conciliation Agreement (VCA-CA) that requires Cushing Housing Inc. to pay $300,000 to individuals, including former tenants, that were subjected to housing discrimination at Cushing’s property. Read the agreement.

The agreement stems from a complaint filed by tenants alleging Cushing Housing violated civil rights laws when it failed to address serious, racially motivated harassment that denied them the ability to peacefully enjoy their housing. The harassment was so severe that it left them fearful of leaving their apartment and took a substantial toll on their mental health. The VCA-CA resolves HUD’s October 26, 2022 Letter of Findings which found respondents discriminated against the tenants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

HUD’s investigation found that residents began harassing the complainants, a White mother and daughter, when the daughter began dating a Black man and was seen with this man at the property. HUD’s investigation found that complainants repeatedly notified Cushing Housing of this harassment, but that Cushing Housing failed to take any steps to address it. The pervasive harassment included calling the complainants racial slurs and threatening racially motivated violence. Despite being on notice of this harassment, Cushing failed to take prompt and effect steps reasonably calculated to end it, instead ultimately issuing a notice to vacate to both the complainant mother as well as the harassers, which HUD found to be unlawful retaliation against the mother for the reporting racial harassment.

In addition to the $300,000 payment to complainants and an aggrieved individual, the agreement requires Cushing Housing: (1) to establish an anti-harassment policy as well as a fair housing and civil rights compliance policy which must be made available to all tenants and include formal grievance procedures, and (2) to obtain fair housing and civil rights training for all officers, agents, and employees.

Read the December 11, 2023 HUD press release.