On November 11, 2011, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed suit against Maureen Dowty, a landlord in Mandeville, Louisiana, for discrimination in the rental of housing on the basis of race and national origin. The lawsuit stems from tests conducted by GNOFHAC. During these tests, Dowty told GNOFHAC’s Latino tester that the rental home was no longer available within hours of telling white testers that the rental was available immediately.
During the investigation, a Latino “mystery shopper,” speaking with a heavy Spanish accent, called regarding a single-family home Ms. Dowty advertised on Craigslist. When the Latino caller asked about the house, on two separate occasions Ms. Dowty indicated that it had been rented or simply hung up the phone. Shortly before and after these denials, Ms. Dowty told non-Latino mystery shoppers that the home was still available and offered to set up appointments and show them the home.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny a person housing and to make false statements about the availability of housing on the basis of national origin. Despite this command, there is widespread discrimination against Latino renters in the New Orleans region. GNOFHAC conducted a broad sample of tests throughout the area and found that Latino testers, who were otherwise qualified renters, encountered differential treatment 32 percent of the time in their search for housing.
GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “Our investigation discovered that Ms. Dowty repeatedly engaged in a pattern of housing discrimination against prospective Latino residents. Fostering an inclusive region means combating housing discrimination in its many forms against Latino residents.”
Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, based in Washington, DC is representing GNOFHAC on this matter.
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private non- profit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.
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