Remembering Civil Rights Attorney Randall “Randy” Berg, Jr.

We at HOPE are celebrating the tremendous life and legacy of a man who was a pillar of our organization throughout its history: extraordinarily dedicated civil rights lawyer Randy Berg.   Mr. Berg’s body of work in fair housing legal advocacy spans over four decades. His statewide case work reflects representation of every class of protected persons under the law; covering rental, sales, lending, zoning, advertising, denial of reasonable accommodations and modifications, accessible design and construction, and other housing-related transactions.

The individuals represented in most of Mr. Berg’s cases may have otherwise been denied representation and/or justice due to financial limitation. Mr. Berg worked on fair housing cases, inside and outside of partnership with HOPE, that resulted in approximately $8 million dollars in recovery for victims of housing discrimination.

Here are a few highlights of Mr. Berg’s fair housing cases demonstrating the impact of his work that spanned over four decades:

1987- Mr. Berg successfully challenged the constitutionality of Miami Beach zoning restrictions applied to adult congregate living facilities for low-income, disabled, and elderly residents as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The 1987 case was cutting edge, having been litigated before fair housing laws were strengthened and amended to include protections for people with disabilities. (Burnstyn v. Miami Beach)

1992- The housing crisis following Hurricane Andrew resulted in numerous housing discrimination complaints on the basis of race and familial status. Representing HOPE, Mr. Berg was instrumental in challenging the discriminatory practices of multiple housing providers and bringing them to an end.

1995- Mr. Berg represented HOPE and three individuals in a landmark fair housing case where a $1.2 million settlement was reached. The case alleged discrimination against African Americans at a 3,000-unit apartment complex. The settlement included $200,000 in federal fines and a $375,000 fund to compensate past victims of housing discrimination at the complex.

2005- A confidential settlement was reached in a case referred to Mr. Berg by HOPE involving three Black homebuyers accusing housing developers of executing pre-construction contracts with them, then selling the homes to non-Black purchasers once built. Over the years, Mr. Berg has assisted numerous homebuyers against condominium associations for denying purchase applications on the basis of their race, national origin, and/or familial status.

2010- In a case against Hialeah Housing Authority (HHA), eight individuals attempted to apply for Section 8 housing vouchers but encountered numerous obstacles. The HHA refused to make accommodations in the application process for people with disabilities, requested decades-old documents that they were not permitted to request, and otherwise made it difficult for the plaintiffs to apply for the benefits to which they were legally entitled. Mr. Berg and attorneys from Legal Services of Greater Miami sued the HHA for violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Due Process Clause, the ADA, and others. The parties reached a settlement for $254,000, Section 8 housing vouchers for the affected parties, and the HHA agreed to change its practices to make the application process more accessible.

2012- Under Mr. Berg’s leadership, the Florida Justice Institute (FJI) filed a series of lawsuits against various real estate companies and condominium associations for violations of the Fair Housing Act. HOPE testers discovered that the associations had a policy prohibiting children under a certain age from living in the condo, and the real estate companies published ads repeating that. FJI was successful in securing settlements that included monetary damages, the condos agreeing to repeal the policies, and the real estate companies agreeing to train their agents to ensure that ads were not published with discriminatory statements against families with children.

2014- Represented by Mr. Berg, HOPE filed a lawsuit against a real estate agent and two realty companies after the agent repeatedly told HOPE testers that children were not allowed to live in an apartment building, which is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. In that same year, Mr. Berg represented HOPE and two victims of racial discrimination in a case against a Miami apartment complex that denied rental opportunities to African Americans.

2016- Mr. Berg was a member of the legal team that included Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in successfully representing Disability Rights Florida, Inc. in a lawsuit against three apartment complexes for failing to be accessible to persons in wheelchairs.

Randy Berg will be sorely missed, but he leaves behind a phenomenal legacy of seeking justice for all people. We are grateful for all of his incredible work!