The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the Decatur Housing Authority in Alabama after a HUD compliance review determined that it maintained discriminatory housing practices in three of its senior properties. Specifically, HUD’s review revealed that the housing authority discriminated against elderly black applicants who applied for housing at more desirable properties (the Towers) by repeatedly skipping over them on the wait list even though they were next to receive a unit. Black applicants were also steered to less desirable units at one of the housing authority’s racially and ethnically concentrated properties (Westgate Gardens). Read the agreement.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. In addition, the Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the rental or sale of housing and in other housing-related transactions because of national origin, race, color, religion, sex, familial status or disability.

“Families who count on being able to access limited affordable housing should have an equal chance to obtain it,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement reflects HUD’s ongoing commitment to working with housing providers to ensure that they comply with their obligations under Title VI.”

HUD conducted a Compliance Review to assess the housing authority’s compliance with Title VI. As a result of its review, HUD identified discrimination in the housing authority’s rental policies, waiting lists, and transfer requests with regard to its senior residents.

Under the terms of the agreement, the housing authority will pay $200,000 in damages by creating a victims’ fund and providing direct compensation to the residents harmed by its discriminatory practices, update its policies relating to its waiting and transfer lists and evictions, and train current and new employees who have contact with applicants or residents about Title VI, the Fair Housing Act, and other applicable civil rights requirements, with a specific emphasis on discrimination based on race, color, and national origin. In addition, the housing authority will ensure meaningful access to its programs and activities by individuals with limited English proficiency, including by providing interpretation and translation services for those who visit, write, or call the housing authority.

Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint of discrimination by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 or visiting How to File a Complaint on HUD’s website. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.