Village of Clemmons settles discrimination complaint over affordable housing
RALEIGH · February 15, 2019 – On January 28, 2019, the Village of Clemmons and Village of Clemmons Village Council agreed to settle a fair housing discrimination claim brought by two affordable developers over the village's refusal to allow an affordable housing community to be built. As part of the settlement, the village has paid $150,000 to compensate the developers for their losses and for their attorney's fees. Members of the village council will also attend fair housing trainings sponsored by the North Carolina Human Relations Commission.
The complainants were represented by Legal Aid of North Carolina's Fair Housing Project and the North Carolina Justice Center. The case was filed with the North Carolina Human Relations Commission in December 2015 on behalf of Sylvan Road Partners, LLC, and Allegro Investment Properties, LLC. The complaint alleged that the Clemmons Village Council's actions in 2015 violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the North Carolina State Fair Housing Act, because the proposed housing community contained affordable housing units and because of the race of the perceived future occupants of the proposed development.
Lauren Brasil, a staff attorney at the Fair Housing Project stated, "Unlawful housing discrimination should not be a barrier to affordable housing development in North Carolina. The Fair Housing Project is committed to ensuring equal housing opportunities for all North Carolinians and enforcing our fair housing laws."
Jack Holtzman, senior staff attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center, noted, "It is important that local governments understand that their decisions regarding affordable housing developments are covered by the state and federal Fair Housing Acts, and that they face real consequences by violating those laws. We appreciate that the current village council has agreed to resolve this matter."
The federal Fair Housing Act and the North Carolina State Fair Housing Act both prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. In addition, North Carolina's law prohibits discrimination based on the fact that a development or proposed development contains affordable housing units.
Launched in 2011 with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Legal Aid's Fair Housing Project is the state's only full-service fair housing enforcement organization. The project provides legal representation to victims of discrimination, conducts undercover fair housing testing, and provides training and education programs on fair housing law to community advocates, landlords, and local government officials, among others. The project has brought cases in federal and state courts, and initiated administrative proceedings before HUD, the North Carolina Human Relations Commission and local human relations commissions across the state. Since its founding, the project has helped obtain over $6.6 million in relief for victims of discrimination.
North Carolinians seeking information about their rights under the federal Fair Housing Act or who believe they are a victim of housing discrimination can call the project's statewide toll-free helpline at 1-855-797-FAIR (3247). All conversations are completely confidential.
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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Our Fair Housing Project works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through education, outreach, public policy initiatives, advocacy and enforcement. The Project is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Housing Initiatives Program. Learn more at LegalAidNC.org and FairHousingNC.org.
Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 919-856-2132, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Brasil, Staff Attorney, Fair Housing Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, LaurenB@legalaidnc.org
Jack Holtzman, Senior Staff Attorney, North Carolina Justice Center, email@example.com
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.