Saturday, August 05, 2017

Housing Authority To Cough Up $230K To Settle Fair Housing Lawsuit Alleging Race Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Failure To Maintain Apartments In Safe Condition

In Anderson, Indiana, The Herald Bulletin reports:
  • The city of Anderson Housing Authority would pay $230,000 under a proposed agreement to resolve a federal housing lawsuit in which Westvale Manor residents alleged sexual harassment, racial discrimination and failure to maintain apartments in a safe condition.

    The housing authority, which operates the apartment complex, does not accept any blame for wrongdoing in the proposed agreement that has not been approved in U.S. Southern District court.

    As proposed, Wanda Sykes and Tonya Brown, two former residents of Westvale Manor, would receive $30,000 each.

    Sykes said Friday she has received $1,500 in three payments as advances on the settlement.

    “Things aren’t really adding up,” she said. “I don’t believe they have my best interests in the case. We’re waiting for the judge to review the consent agreement.”

    They were joined in the 2016 federal lawsuit by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, which would also receive $30,000.

    Both women have moved from the federally subsidized apartments near 25th Street and Raible Avenue.

    The remainder of the monetary award, about $140,000, would be split among attorneys in the case, according to a copy of the proposed consent decree obtained by The Herald Bulletin.
    In the 2016 lawsuit, the two residents and the Fair Housing Center alleged that the housing authority disregarded complaints by residents because a majority of Westvale residents are black.

    “AHA so consistently and deliberately disregards complaints by Westvale’s black residents that most long-term tenants long ago gave up asking AHA for help,” the initial complaint alleged.

    Among the complaints, according to the lawsuit:

    Leaks: One resident slept in her living room because of a leak in her bedroom; three more residents reported leaks in bathrooms; and another said her ceiling collapsed after being soaked with water from a leak.

    Mold: Nine tenants reported visible mold. One resident tested mold in her unit and shared the results — a “dangerous” rating — with Weatherly, who was the head of maintenance for AHA before becoming director of the housing authority. He did nothing to address the mold problem, the lawsuit alleged.

    Shower curtains for doors: Several residents said that when their closet doors broke, the AHA replaced them with shower curtains.

    Harassment: One woman, identified as Jane Doe, said she was sexually harassed by two maintenance workers. One of the workers told her she would have her carpets cleaned faster if she performed a sexual act. Another maintenance man allegedly touched her breasts on more than one occasion when she walked past him in a stairway.
For the story, see Westvale settlement proposal totals $230,000 (Housing authority staff would undergo training; policy changes required).