Condo President Resigns After Denying Sale to Black Family

Condo association must pay $120,000, fire board members, take fair housing training

Monday, Oct 25, 2010  |  Updated 2:21 PM CDT
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Condo President Resigns After Denying Sale to Black Family

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A condo sale didn't happen after the board learned the potential buyers were black. Now, the board has to pay over $100,000, get rid of board members, and get educated about the Fair Housing Act.

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A Munster, Ind. condominium association has agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a federal racial discrimination case, according to court records.

U.S. attorneys filed a settlement agreement Friday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, Ind. which also detailed other steps that Autumn Ridge Condominium Association must take including the resignation of the board president.

The federal government filed the lawsuit against the association and three board members in 2008, claiming that a black couple -- David Haddox and Kourtney Valentine -- and their children had attempted to buy a condo in the association. According to the lawsuit, the condo board gave initial approval but then rejected the family only after learning they were black. The government also charged that the association's bylaws said no children were allowed, which breaks federal law.

The condo ended up selling for a lower price, and the prospective buyers, former owner and real estate agents for both complained, saying they lost out on money and a home.

The three board members -- Richard Archie, Ronald Patterson and James Reed -- denied in an earlier hearing of objecting to the family's purchase at all.

However, Archie, board president, has agreed to leave his office as soon as a replacement is voted in and cannot hold office on the board again, according to the agreement.

The agreement also calls for the association to pay $106,500 into an escrow account that will be paid to all the victims. Autumn Ridge must also pay a fine to the federal government of $13,500.

Autumn Ridge also agrees to adopt non-discriminatory policies, to post fair-housing signs and to have board members take training on the Fair Housing Act, according to the settlement agreement.

In a news release, Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said, "This settlement should serve as a message to condominium boards and other housing providers that they must comply with the Fair Housing Act, and that the Justice Department will take aggressive action when they do not."

"Denying a family the opportunity to buy a home because of their race or because they have children is illegal and unacceptable," added Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasvina.

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