Atlanta-based management companies face housing discrimination suit

Federal authorities have accused three Atlanta management companies of discriminating against African Americans and seniors by steering them to inferior housing.

In a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the government accuses Crimson Management LLC of giving white applicants access to better rental apartments over minorities and the elderly.

Benefield Housing Partnership and Cedartown Housing Associates are also named in the lawsuit filed Thursday. The companies operate low-income apartment complexes Cedartown Commons and Cedarwood Village, respectively.

Authorities said Benfield and Cedartown Housing worked on behalf of Crimson to rent, show, maintain and manage the apartment complexes.

“More than 50 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, cases like this demonstrate that there is still work to be done to ensure that all people, regardless of race and color, have equal access to housing,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a news release. “My office will continue to devote resources to investigate and eradicate housing discrimination.”

The lawsuit alleges that between 2012 to 2018, Crimson Management steered African American housing applicants for Cedarwood Village apartments, located in a predominantly white neighborhood, to Cedartown Commons, a housing complex that is “inferior in appearance, location, and amenities,” according to the release.

“While the company vigorously disputes the government’s allegations and looks forward to defending itself in court, the company’s policy is not to comment on pending litigation,” said John D. Bennett, attorney for Crimson Management.

According to the lawsuit, white applicants were assigned units at Cedarwood Village ahead of black applicants. At the same time, black applicants were assigned units at Cedartown Commons ahead of white applicants.

This also resulted in units at Cedartown Commons remaining vacant until a black resident was assigned to the unit, according to the suit. In one case, a unit sat vacant for 19 months before it was assigned to a black resident.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.

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