|HUD No. 20-170
HUD Public Affairs
October 9, 2020
SECRETARY INVESTIGATES ALLEGED RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION IN SENIOR HOUSING COMPLEXES
Bibles Allegedly Removed from Resident Library and Common Areas
WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced last night he has initiated a Complaint against the owner and manager of senior apartments in Oklahoma for violating the Fair Housing Act by removing Bibles and Christian reading material from the common areas. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and in housing-related services based on religion and other protected characteristics.
“Religious liberty is at the core of our Nation’s identity and will be upheld under the Fair Housing Act,” said Secretary Carson. “Barring religious materials infringes upon this right, and the Trump Administration will not stand for discrimination against any group for practicing their religious traditions.”
Secretary Carson received a letter from a resident at the Carriage Crossing apartment complex who was upset that the management demanded the removal of religious reading material from the common areas and angel ornaments from the complex’s Christmas tree. Vintage Housing, Inc. owns the two properties at issue.
Wilhoit Properties, Inc., also named in Secretary Carson’s complaint and investigation, manages both Cardinal Heights Apartments and Carriage Crossing, as well as more than 200 properties in 16 states. The subject properties are limited to persons age 62 and over. Going forward, the investigation will seek to determine if HUD has reasonable cause to believe the owner and manager discriminated based on religion.
HUD Secretary-Initiated Complaints
The Secretary of HUD may file a fair housing complaint against those whom the Department believes may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Secretary-Initiated Complaints are appropriate in cases, among others, involving significant issues that are national in scope or when the Department is made aware of potential violations of the Act and broad public interest relief is warranted. A Fair Housing Act complaint, including a Secretary initiated complaint, is not a determination of liability.
A Secretary-Initiated Complaint will result in a formal fact-finding investigation. The party against whom the complaint is filed will be provided notice and an opportunity to respond. If HUD's investigation results in a determination that reasonable cause exists that there has been a violation of the Fair Housing Act, a charge of discrimination may be filed. Throughout the process, HUD will seek conciliation and voluntary resolution. If a charge is filed, it may be resolved through settlement, an administrative determination or referral to the Department of Justice.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination in housing because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
Secretary Carson’s Fair Housing Record
Taking on Big Tech: Under the leadership of Secretary Carson, HUD charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act, alleging that Facebook unlawfully restricted who can view housing-related ads based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability. As alleged in HUD’s charge, Facebook has approximately 221 million active users in the United States and is the second largest online advertiser nationwide. HUD has also been engaged with other platforms to improve their policies and practices for housing-related advertisements.
Clearing Backlog of Fair Housing Complaints: Since January 2017, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) partners have worked diligently to investigate fair housing complaints and achieve appropriate resolution based on the facts of each case, which had a disappointingly long backlog prior to the Secretary’s arrival. From January 2017 to present, we have successfully resolved 22,933 cases.
Ensuring Accessible Housing: Entered into a landmark voluntary compliance agreement with the City of Los Angeles to provide accessibility improvements. The unprecedented settlement anticipates 10,000 new units of affordable housing over the next ten years, including 1,500 accessible units for individuals with disabilities, and a commitment to provide 3,100 accessible housing units by retrofitting existing housing.