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HUD Accuses Oklahoma Housing Provider of Racial Discrimination

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has issued a Letter of Findings in the investigation of Cushing Housing, Inc., and property manager Oklahoma Property Management, Inc. (OPMI), both recipients of HUD funds. HUD found the respondents discriminated against tenants of Cimarron Towers—a multi-unit development located in Cushing, Oklahoma for residents who are elderly or have a disability—by failing to adequately respond to known serious racial harassment and retaliated by moving to terminate their tenancy.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race by recipients of federal financial assistance. Cushing Housing and OPMI are required to comply with Title VI because they are a recipient and subrecipient, respectively, of Federal financial assistance from HUD.

“Bigotry and racial discrimination have no place in housing. It is inexcusable for a HUD-funded housing provider to discriminate and retaliate against its tenants while denying them the ability to peacefully enjoy their housing” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This Letter of Findings of Noncompliance demonstrates HUD’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that entities receiving HUD funding comply with their civil rights obligations and that all individuals have the opportunity to live in HUD-assisted housing, free from discrimination.”

The case originally came to HUD’s attention when the complainants, a mother, and her daughter, filed a complaint with HUD alleging that they had been discriminated against by Cushing Housing and OPMI due to the race of the daughter’s boyfriend.

When the daughter, who is white, was seen dating a man who is Black, the complainants became the target of severe and pervasive racial harassment from other tenants on the property. The complainants were repeatedly called racial slurs by other tenants and were threatened with racially motivated violence. HUD’s investigation found that complainants repeatedly notified Cushing Housing and OPMI of the racial harassment, but the recipients failed to adequately address the harassment.

When Cushing Housing and OPMI responded, it was in the form of a notice to vacate to both the complainant mother as well as the harassers. HUD’s investigation thus revealed that the complainant mother was also unlawfully retaliated against for her efforts to have the harassment addressed.

Cimarron Towers had been funded under two HUD programs: the Section 202 program and the Section 8 project-based rental assistance program. At the time of the discriminatory actions, self-reported demographic data indicates the property was approximately 88.8% white, 4.4% Black, and 6.6% American-Indian/Alaskan Native.

HUD will attempt to seek remedial relief for the complainants and public interest relief through changes to policies and procedures through a Voluntary Compliance Agreement/Conciliation Agreement in an effort to make the complainant whole and eliminate discriminatory practices.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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