D.C. Ethiopian Woman Alleges Housing Discrimination at Building …

Darrow Montgomery

A D.C. resident born in Ethiopia is suing the cooperative association of an apartment complex near the U Street corridor for allegedly denying her housing on the basis of her national origin. She was pregnant with her second child and looking for larger accommodations at the time.

In a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for D.C., attorneys for Melikt Mengiste argue that the cooperative association of 1901-07 15th St. NW and its president unlawfully discriminated against Mengiste in refusing to rent her an apartment there in 2015. According to the lawsuit, the cooperative association required Mengiste to “submit additional documentation” not required of other applicantsincluding verification forms from her employer and landlordas part of her housing application, even after the complex’s management had “pre-approved” her that June. Though Mengiste complied, she was never contacted for a tenant interview, and was denied a unit in October without any explanation.

Mengiste’s lawyers say that while Mengiste’s application was pending, the president of the cooperative association, Delia Thompson, made “disparaging remarks about Ms. Mengiste’s family, history, and personal appearance, and about individuals of Ethiopian national origin” to the management company. Thompson allegedly claimed that Mengiste “had poor credit, that she had damaged her prior apartment, and that her husband had a criminal background”—all false, per the lawsuit. The suit furthermore claims that Thompson’s brother told Mengiste “we don’t want your kind here” when she was visiting the property, and that Thompson allegedly referred to Mengiste as “dirty” and “nasty.”

See Also:  Meet one of the first Colorado transplants from Ethiopia

Thompson could not immediately be reached for comment, but an attorney who serves as the “registered agent” for the co-op said Friday in an email that she had not yet discussed the lawsuit with her client.

Mengiste’s lawyers say she “suffered from depression and insomnia [for] at least eight months” as a result of these incidents, plus “attendant harms” like remaining in an “overcrowded” apartment for longer than necessary and having to find other housing. They’re seeking an injunction and compensation under both D.C. and federal laws.

See Also:  የአስቸኳይ ጊዜ አዋጁ እንዲነሳ የሚኒስትሮች ምክር ቤት ወሰነ

“Ms. Mengiste’s experience of being denied housing on the basis of her national origin is but one example of the types of discriminatory and harassing treatment faced by members of the District’s immigrant community,” says Adam Chud, a partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, which is representing Mengiste along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Mengiste, who has since relocated, lived in a studio with her husband, sister, and two children during the time she was applying for housing, according to her lawyers.

The suit is being brought under the Fair Housing Act and the District’s Human Rights Act, which both bar discrimination based on national origin.

Read More Here


AddisNews is not responsible for the contents or reliability of any other websites to which we get contents from and provide a link and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed by them.

Comments

comments

Click Here to Read More on AddisNews

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.