The housing authority of a small Alabama town was sued Tuesday by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly discriminating against Black housing applicants.
The Justice Department says the Housing Authority of Ashland, Alabama, violated the Fair Housing Act by denying Black applicants the opportunity to live in overwhelmingly white housing complexes, while steering white applicants away from properties whose residents were predominantly Black.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that it has reserved three housing complexes – Ashland Heights, Clay Circle and East Side – for white residents while reserving West Side and Pine View complexes for Black residents.
“Individuals and families should not have their rights affected by their race or national origin,” said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama. “Our office is committed to defending the civil rights of everyone.”
The lawsuit seeks damages to “compensate victims, civil penalties to the government to vindicate the public interest, and a court order barring future discrimination and requiring action to correct the effects of the defendants’ discrimination.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. It also names as defendants Southern Development Company of Ashland Ltd., Southern Development Company of Ashland #2 Ltd., and Southern Development Company LLC, which are the private owners and managing agent of one of those housing complexes.
Ashland, with a population of about 1,900, is about midway between Atlanta and Montgomery.