Major Victory Against Discriminatory Housing Management in North Dade
In June of 2014, HOPE, with residents of the 183/187 St. Apartments in Miami Gardens and 22 Ave. Apartments in Opa-Locka, filed a federal lawsuit against defendants Charter Realty, Miami Property Group, and manager Paulette Gopaul for discriminating against families with children, domestic violence victims, and persons with disabilities.
The defendants had unfair rules about children. Toys were to be disposed of without notice. Children could not play in common areas, always had to be with an adult (even on the playground), and had to use the pool during pool hours that were during school hours. Additionally, children had to be in their apartments by dark or 9:00 PM, with no exceptions.
The defendants also had rules for eviction due to threats, crimes in the apartment, violence, and other infractions. This unfairly impacted domestic violence victims (most often women). If police were called, a tenant could be evicted, even for only being a victim. HOPE published brochures to inform residents of their rights.
Finally, tenants with physical or mental challenges faced awful conditions: no accessible units, no reserved parking, and requests for accommodations that were met with civil rights violations and intrusion into privacy. The defendants routinely met these requests with three-year delays and demands of full medical reports. Some tenants died awaiting a response. So also in June of 2014, the Disability Independence Group, with attorneys Matthew Dietz and Rachel Goldstein, filed a federal lawsuit to seek immediate corrective action.
A settlement was finally reached earlier this year, and at the Miami-Dade County Fair Housing Month Celebration on April 17, 2015, in the company of HUD Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez, 5 of the residents signed the agreement. This included $645,000 in damages and attorney’s fees and major changes to Charter Realty’s policies and procedures. HOPE applauds all of the residents who stepped forward to assert their rights and encourages any other potential victims out there to do the same!