Thumbs up! HUD Settles Racial Discrimination Case Against Aqua Vista in North Miami Beach

On June 3 of this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its having reached a settlement with Aqua Vista Townhomes Condominium Association in North Miami Beach. At the center of the case was President Daniella Adams, acting on behalf of the association board of directors for the property, which is located at 2046 NE 167th Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33162. Adams was alleged to have attempted to deny Black and Hispanic people the opportunity to live at the property through constant harassment and discriminatory remarks.

The settlement is the resolution of a complaint that was filed by HUD on July 12, 2013. In the complaint, it was alleged that Adams specifically targeted Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Program participants who were Black and Hispanic and made problems for them.  According to HUD, Adams was trying to have these people removed from the property by reporting them for violating Section 8 rules. The complaint alleged that the Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency received complaints from Adams about these people that were simply an attempt to make things difficult for the residents to remain there – one media outlet described the complaints as “contrived.” Indeed, as a direct result of Adams’ efforts, several residents left the property.

A roundabout way of treating people differently in their housing choice due to their race is just as illegal as putting a sign out in front of the property that warns that people of certain races are not welcome, and equally a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (in addition to state and local laws). “You can’t deny people housing because of what they look like or where they come from,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (the very same individual pictured on the cover of this newsletter). “We have zero tolerance for those who discriminate against people because of their race or national origin.”

Among other obligations and requirements, the settlement demands that that the association create a compensation fund of $109,000 to cover the expenses and damages of more than 20 residents and others who were harmed in these series of incidents. The settlement can be found by a Google search of “HUD Aqua Vista Condominiums.” Additional requirements include that the association revamp its application policies and provide fair housing training for its board members, officers, and employees.

The back side of this newsletter lists reasons for which housing discrimination is illegal. If you suspect discrimination, please don’t just tolerate it! Call us!