Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Munster Condo Association Sued For Discrimination

The Justice Department is suing the Autum Ridge Condominium Association in Munster because its Board allegedly denied housing to a black couple with children. The Association had a rule in place until 2007 which prohibited sales to anyone with children under the age of 18 if the children were to live in the units. In this case, however, the previous owner of the condo had children living in her unit with her. The Northwest Indiana Times' Joe Carlson's explains what led federal authorities to conclude the Association discriminated against the couple:

According to government filings in Hammond federal court, condo association officials did not raise an issue about Valentine's two children violating board policy until after the officials learned Valentine and Haddox were black during face-to-face meetings.

Until June 25, 2007, the association had a rule prohibiting sales to anyone with children younger than 18 if the children were to live in the units. But the previous owner, Diane Webster-Rangel, had two children living in the condo, federal filings allege.

Haddox and Valentine would have been the first black residents in the 20-unit development at 633 South St. since the association was formed in 1986,
the government lawsuit states.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Jamie Hais said her department's lawsuit is the result of a complaint received and investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Civil Rights Division trial attorney M. Elizabeth Parr states in the federal complaint that the board's decision not to approve the $122,000 sale between the previous owner and Haddox violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race and familial status.

Other victims included the seller, who had to accept a lower purchase price from a white buyer in 2007, and Haddox's real estate agents, who did not get paid for their work on the deal, the lawsuit alleges.

Collins points out in his story other housing discrimination lawsuits the federal government has brought in the region. Last year, the government sued the Town of St. John for denying a zoning variance to a man who wanted to allow unmarried persons suffering from MS to live in his home for treatment. The town had an ordinance against unmarried persons living together in a single residence. In 2002, the government brought a case against Lake County after a head of the economic development agency was fired because he supported an affordable housing project in Lake Station which might attract minorities. And who said the Bush Justice Department doesn't enforce civil rights?


guy77money said...

God Help Us Racism still exist in America! The sad part if we got to know each other better we would find out we all want the same thing! Family, friends, religion and good times. The people that scare me are ones who will die for a cause! The truly insane thing is it is usually someone else telling you should die for a good cause, but they certainly won't be in line with you. Shiss don't tell Abduhl racism still exists in Indy! OK that's a low blow but the cause of Racism is change and not wanting to accept that someone is different. That's a very sad epitaph for the human race.

veritas said...

This is nothing new for Munster. I grew up in this lily white community and was disgusted by, and bucked against, the unashamed racial hatred expressed by a good many Munster residents. I remember when baseball star Ernie Banks of the Cubs looked into buying a home in Munster for himself and his family. When word got out, there was such a brou-ha-ha, that Banks backed off. Imagine opposing ERNIE BANKS as your neighbor! I had hoped the town had changed since the 30+ years since I left. Apparently not.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad to hear. My husband is a civil engineer from Africa and I'm white, from the western suburbs of Chicago. We just bought a home in Munster, IN. Our neighbors are fantastic and we feel really lucky, but have had strange looks and feelings at different times outside of our neighborhood on White Oak Ave. We'll see what happens...