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?