Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Filed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Miami apartment complex is facing a lawsuit over alleged racial discrimination. NBC 6's Ari Odzer has more details. (Published Friday, May 23, 2014)

    It was like a sting operation: send both black and white people into an apartment building posing as renters; then see if they're treated differently because of the color of their skin. It resulted in a discrimination lawsuit being filed in federal court.

    "Discrimination, completely," said Zipporah Hayes, one of the housing testers who went looking for an apartment at the Elite Riverview Apartments, at NW 27th Avenue in Miami.

    The white, Hispanic testers had a completely different experience at the same building.

    "Actually, it was a nice experience. I felt welcome when I went in," said Alexandra Del Rosario.

    She's white, Zipporah Hayes is African-American. They each went to the Elite Riverview Apartments on the same day in February, looking for vacancies.

    "I was told there was no units until the second week of March. I wasn't even offered to look at any units or anything like that," said Hayes.

    In stark contrast, Del Rosario said, “He offered me a penthouse, which was on the seventh floor.”

    While Del Rosario got a penthouse; Hayes got the outhouse, as in get out, according to the lawsuit filed by an organization that monitors housing discrimination in Miami called HOPE, which stands for the Housing Opportunity Project for Excellence.

    "It’s sad and sickening that we’re still here, 45, 46 years after the passage of the FAIR Housing Act and seeing the exact same type of discrimination where someone else is deciding if you can live someplace by virtue of the color of your skin,” said Keenya Robertson, director of HOPE.

    HOPE sent six testers into the apartment building posing as renters, divided equally between black and white.

    The lawsuit names a manager named Roberto, saying Roberto denied all three black customers but showed vacancies to all three white Hispanics.

    "Discrimination isn't as overt as it was in the past, but it happens every day and it's important that people understand what it looks like now," said Robertson.

    NBC 6 talked to the manager, who did identify himself as Roberto, but claimed to not speak English. He then promised to have his boss call us for comment, but no one ever called.

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