Miami Apartment Complex Discriminated Against Prospective African-American Renters: Lawsuit

The lawsuit states that African American testers who went apartment hunting at the complex were consistently told apartments weren't available.

By Ari Odzer and Karen Franklin
|  Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012  |  Updated 7:46 PM EDT
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Six people hired to uncover housing discrimination said they found that a Miami apartment complex discriminated against prospective African-American renters. Erin Lewis and Donntay Cooper, two of the testers, spoke with NBC 6 South Florida.

Six people hired to uncover housing discrimination said they found that a Miami apartment complex discriminated against prospective African-American renters. Erin Lewis and Donntay Cooper, two of the testers, spoke with NBC 6 South Florida.

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Six people hired to uncover housing discrimination said they found that a Miami apartment complex discriminated against prospective African-American renters.

Erin Lewis and Donntay Cooper were two of the housing discrimination testers who received different information about available apartments in Design Place, an apartment complex in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood.

"I was told in no uncertain terms that they didn't have anything available and to come back later," Cooper told NBC 6 South Florida.

Lewis, who visited the complex on the same October day as Cooper, was told there were apartments available.

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Due to the conflicting answers, Hope Inc., the non-profit that Lewis and Cooper work for, is filing a housing discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit states that African-American testers who went apartment hunting at the complex were consistently told apartments weren't available.

CEO of Hope, Inc. Keenya Robertson said the renter's race determined the availability of apartments.

"Yes, they had different experiences, they were given different information about the availability of units and price, and that's definitely a violation of the fair housing law to do so on the basis of race," she said.

"I'm ticked off that something like this can occur," Cooper said.

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His colleague Lewis said she was outraged that this treatment still occurred.

"I felt like people really needed to know about this first of all, and they really needed to be held accountable," Lewis said. "I felt very angry when i found out this is the way people had been treated."

The complex is run by SPV Realty, which has not returned repeated calls for comment about the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Robertson said housing discrimination is more subtle.

"Sometimes it's discrimination with a smile, they get all the information about the housing, but the housing's not made available to them, nor do they know that they're not being told the truth with regard to what is in fact available," Robertson said.

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