A new section of the D.C. attorney general’s office has been created with the aim of helping people fight housing discrimination, and it has filed a lawsuit against a landlord accused of refusing to accept renters with housing vouchers.
The new Civil Rights Section will “promote equal justice under the law and stand up for District residents who face illegal discrimination,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement Thursday.
The Office of the Attorney General is suing Maryland-based Curtis Investment Group after it received a complaint from a D.C. resident.
The lawsuit alleges that the company discriminated in its online rental advertisements on Zillow, Craigslist and Apartments.com, against renters who use vouchers.
The company is the landlord of several apartment buildings in Wards 7 and 8, which includes: Camelot Square at 3200 E St. Southeast, Cornerstone at 1800 Minnesota Ave. Southeast, Wheeler Park at 3211-3221 Wheeler Road Southeast and Oxon Run Manor at 207 Mississippi Ave. Southeast.
The lawsuit said that the ads consist of statements that say that a property is not accepting vouchers at this time or that it does not accept payment from D.C’s rapid rehousing program.
This practice violates D.C.’s Human Rights Act, which specifically outlaws housing discrimination based on source of income, the lawsuit said.
The Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8, is federally funded and it allows low-income earners to rent private housing at market rates.
“This assistance is critical in a city where many households are severely rent burdened and spend more than half of their monthly income on rent,” the lawsuit said.
“Discrimination still makes it hard for too many people to find safe and affordable places to live,” Racine said.
In July, the attorney general’s office will have listening sessions, and it is inviting D.C. residents to share their experiences with discrimination.
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