The National Fair Housing Alliance said today it had filed a complaint with the Housing and Urban Development Department and the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission over alleged discrimination against prospective Latino tenants by Bailey Properties, a Little Rock-based apartment complex developer and manager.
Bailey, now operated as BSR Trust, owns and manages 19,000 apartments through the southeastern United States, the alliance said.
The Alliance, a consortium of private and nonprofit groups that receives some government support, said it responded to a complaint about discrimination. It said it found that Latinos didn’t receive or had to wait inordinate periods of time to receive rental applications, while less qualified white tenants got prompt attention. Said the alliance:
In one instance, a white renter and a Latino renter both called on the same day asking about available apartments and information on applying. The white renter received an application via email within eight minutes along with other detailed application requirements and information. By contrast, the Latino renter had to wait 12 days for a response which included only the application and no additional required information, effectively eliminating that apartment as an option for someone who was planning to move in short order.
For its investigation, NFHA used white and Latino individuals, or testers, posing as prospective renters. In all cases, Latino testers were somewhat better qualified to rent the apartments than their white counterparts – they had higher incomes, a longer job history, and other better qualifying characteristics.
Specifically, the complaint alleged discrimination against Latinos at The Waterford, an apartment complex on Green Mountain Drive in Little Rock.
Dan Oberste, general counsel for BSR, responded: “I don’t believe any discrimination took place. But if a reputable agency believes that, it definitely merits an indepth investigation.” He said the complaint on file mentions one incident at one complex. “We’re in the middle of researching it and investigating it,” he said. He promised more details when he had them.
Naweed Lemar, a spokesman for the alliance, said the normal course of action in such complaints is for HUD to mount its own review to determine if the allegations are substantiated. That can lead to a remedial agreement, including a promise to correct discriminatory practices.