DoJ tries to determine housing discrimination

Published 4:21 pm Monday, May 24, 2010

In an effort to determine whether violations of the Fair Housing Act were committed at a local apartment complex, the U.S. Department of Justice has sent letters asking residents of other local apartment complexes if they knew of discriminatory practices at Rolling Oaks.

The Justice Department is prosecuting Chandi Biswas, owner of Rolling Oaks Apartments in Clanton, after two complex employees allegedly told white individuals acting as renters that a selling point of the complex was the lack of black tenants and that policies were also in effect to keep black people from applying to live there.

The charges came from evidence collected during DoJ’s Fair Housing Testing Program and were filed in July 2009 in U.S. District Court.

The case is still several months away from going to court.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Clanton Advertiser, reads: “If you believe that an employee at Rolling Oaks Apartments turned away or discouraged you (or someone you know) from living at Rolling Oaks, we would like to talk with you about these experiences.”

The letter is signed by trial attorney Daniel Yi on behalf of Department Chief Steven H. Rosenbaum.

“Apparently, by contacting tenants of other apartment complexes in Clanton, the United States Department of Justice feels as though it lacks sufficient evidentiary support for its claims against my client,” Anthony B. Bush, who is representing Biswas, wrote in an e-mail. “Mr. Biswas strongly denies the allegations against him and looks forward to his day in court.”

A representative from the Department of Justice declined comment, citing department policy not to comment on open cases.