|HUD No. 23-275
HUD Public Affairs
December 11, 2023
HUD Announces Settlement Agreement Requiring Oklahoma Housing Provider Pay $300,000 to Victims of Housing Discrimination
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement-Conciliation Agreement (VCA-CA) with Cushing Housing Inc. requiring respondents to pay $300,000 to individuals, including former tenants, that were subjected to housing discrimination at Cushing’s property. Read the agreement.
“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, we are taking on housing discrimination like never before,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “HUD is holding people accountable, and ensuring those who face discrimination have a voice to build a fairer nation for all.”
The agreement stems from a complaint filed by tenants alleging Cushing Housing violated civil rights laws when it failed to address serious, racially motivated harassment that denied them the ability to peacefully enjoy their housing. The harassment was so severe that it left them fearful of leaving their apartment and took a substantial toll on their mental health. The VCA-CA resolves HUD’s October 26, 2022 Letter of Findings which found respondents discriminated against the tenants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI prohibits discrimination based on race by recipients of federal financial assistance, including where a recipient fails to adequately respond to known racial harassment against a beneficiary of its program. Title VI also prohibits retaliating against a person engaged in a protected activity, such as where they seek to have the housing provider address such racial harassment. Cushing Housing is required to comply with Title VI because they are a recipient of Federal financial assistance from HUD.
“No tenant should be subjected to harassment and subsequent retaliation by a HUD funded housing provider” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This agreement and the previously issued Letter of Findings demonstrates HUD’s commitment to upholding our Nation’s civil rights laws.”
HUD’s investigation found that residents began harassing the complainants, a White mother and daughter, when the daughter began dating a Black man and was seen with this man at the property. HUD’s investigation found that complainants repeatedly notified Cushing Housing of this harassment, but that Cushing Housing failed to take any steps to address it. The pervasive harassment included calling the complainants racial slurs and threatening racially motivated violence. Despite being on notice of this harassment, Cushing failed to take prompt and effect steps reasonably calculated to end it, instead ultimately issuing a notice to vacate to both the complainant mother as well as the harassers, which HUD found to be unlawful retaliation against the mother for the reporting racial harassment.
In addition to the $300,000 payment to complainants and an aggrieved individual, the agreement requires Cushing Housing to establish an anti-harassment policy as well as a fair housing and civil rights compliance policy. Both policies must be made available to all tenants and include formal grievance procedures. Respondents are also required to obtain fair housing and civil rights training for all officers, agents, and employees.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay).
Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at hud.gov/fairhousing.